On the heels of a wild race at Martinsville, a busy week of racing continues with a trip to Homestead-Miami Speedway. The mile-and-a-half oval will host Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400, and for the first time since 2001, the track will not be the site of the season finale. With the rest of the field no longer having to worry about impacting the championship, it will be interesting to see how this this race plays out.
When building my lineups for Sunday, I obviously took a look at how drivers have performed at Homestead in the past. However, this track is also known for having higher tire wear, so I paid close attention to how drivers and teams performed this year at other tracks known for chewing up tires, specifically, Auto Club, Darlington and Atlanta.
Yes, there are plenty of big names who check both those boxes, and with the field once again being set by a random draw based off owner points, we have most of the heavy hitters starting up front. The situation forces your hand a bit when it comes to building fantasy lineup.
If you want to post a strong score in Fantasy Live, you probably need to lean on the top guys again this weekend. There are some opportunities to save starts by using a few drivers on the upper end of the middle tier, but I think this is a more viable strategy for your Group B picks in the Driver Group Game.
The qualifying procedure continues to make for some difficult decisions in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto contest. Opportunities for easy place differential points from top options are essentially nonexistent, so you can either try to pick the drivers who will earn the most stage points and finish at the front, or you can take a chance on several less reliable options who have spots to gain.
In recent weeks, I have been leaning more towards the bigger names and have seen mixed results. Of course, things would have looked a whole lot better had Chase Elliott and Joey Logano, who were both on my team, not gotten together in the final laps at Bristol. Anyway, I skewed my lineup a little more towards place differential points this weekend, anticipating a little more action since no one will have to tiptoe around the Championship 4.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
Harvick has made six starts at Homestead with Stewart-Haas Racing, and he has finished fourth or better in all of them and led 40-plus laps in five of those races. He has also been a stage point juggernaut, logging 16 last year, 19 in 2018 and 15 in the 2017 race. Armed with a Top 10 starting spot, Harvick is the safest bet to deliver a 50-point performance for fantasy owners.
He has been the model of consistency at Homestead, finishing sixth or better in each of his last five starts. Logano won the 2018 race here, and he notched a fifth-place finish a year ago. Starting on the front row, he is in perfect position to pile up stage points and deliver another Top 5 run at the track.
Martin Truex Jr.
Truex broke through with a win last weekend at Martinsville, and I think he keeps the momentum going Sunday at Homestead. His last three starts at the track have resulted in a win and two runner-up finishes, and last year, he piled up 17 stage points, winning Stage 1 and leading 103 laps. Rolling off sixth, Truex could be headed for 50-plus points.
He hasn’t exactly been dominant at Homestead, but since picking up his second win at the track in 2013, Hamlin has finished between seventh and 12th in six straight starts here. He started on the pole four times in that stretch, including last year when he finished fifth in Stage 1 and Stage 2 and 10th in the race. Hamlin will lead the field to the green again Sunday, and at worst, I think he sneaks into the 40-point range.
Busch has been locked in at Homestead, reeling off five straight finishes of sixth or better and leading 20-plus laps four times in that span. Last year, he led 120 laps on his way to his second title and second win at the track. This season, he has been the runner-up in three of the four races at tracks with high tire wear. Starting fourth, Busch should contend for the win and easily top 40 fantasy points.
Garage Driver – Clint Bowyer
I would argue with any of the other Team Penske or Hendrick Motorsports drivers for this spot, but I am going to have Bowyer available in case he lives up to his potential. For one, he has been rock solid at Homestead, finishing 12th or better in 11 of his 14 starts and posting an 8.7 average finish in three starts with Stewart-Haas. I also like the speed he has shown at tracks with high tire wear this year. Bowyer has earned stage points in six of the eight stages across races at Auto Club, Darlington and Atlanta, notching two stage wins and leading double-digit laps in three of the four races.
Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Driver Group Game
Kevin Harvick (A)
You will have a tough time finding a more dependable option at Homestead than Harvick. He has 17 Top 10s in 19 starts at the track, posting a 6.4 average finish. He has been even better since joining Stewart-Haas Racing, finishing fourth or better in all six starts and leading 40-plus laps five times. Starting seventh, Harvick seems like a lock for a Top 5 and a bunch of stage points Sunday.
Clint Bowyer (B)
Bowyer has displayed a combination of reliability and upside at Homestead, and in 14 starts, he has 11 finishes of 12th or better. He has finished sixth or better five times, and he has an 8.7 average finish in three starts here with Stewart-Haas Racing. Bowyer has also shown some muscle at track with high tire wear this year, leading double-digit laps at Auto Club, the second race at Darlington and Atlanta. Starting 12th, 10-plus stage points and a Top 5 finish are on the table.
Erik Jones (B)
In addition to running well at the mile-and-a-half tracks over the last couple of years, Jones usually excels at tracks with higher tire wear. He won at Darlington last year, and he finished eighth and fifth in the two races there this season. Jones also picked up a Top 10 at Auto Club. Throw in his third-place effort at Homestead last fall, and I think Jones has sneaky Top 5 upside this weekend.
Tyler Reddick (C)
Reddick has had the most upside among the Group C options all year, and I certainly don’t see that changing Sunday. His 229 points scored are the most of any driver in this tier, and his record at Homestead at the XFINITY level speaks for itself. Reddick posted a 2.0 average finish in three starts, picking up wins in 2018 and 2019. I think Cole Custer and Matt Kenseth could both be solid plays, but I can’t pass on Reddick’s upside.
Fantasy Racing Online Slingshot Fantasy Auto
Kevin Harvick ($13,000)
He has only finished outside the Top 10 in two of his 19 starts at Homestead, and Harvick has been on another level at the track since joining Stewart-Haas Racing, finishing fourth or better in all six starts. He drew the No. 7 starting spot, and I expect Harvick to be in the mix for the stage wins and the race win Sunday.
Ryan Blaney ($10,400)
Blaney had his best run at Homestead last fall when he finished 11th and finished sixth in both stages. More importantly, he has been the best in the series at mile-and-a-half tracks in 2020, scoring a series-best 181 total points and posting a series-leading 5.2 average finish. A Top 5 finish and 10-plus stage points are likely, and rolling off 11th, Blaney should also add double-digit place differential points to his final score.
William Byron ($9,600)
This is my riskiest fantasy play this weekend, but despite his lackluster average finish in 2020, Byron has had plenty of speed. In fact, he has the fifth-best green flag speed in the series. He starts 22nd, but Byron was running in the Top 10 a Homestead last fall before suffering an engine failure. I’m taking a chance on his 100-point upside, but if you want a safer play, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer are both worth a look.
Tyler Reddick ($8,500)
He doesn’t have as much place differential upside as fellow rookie Christopher Bell, but starting 24th, Reddick still has plenty of differential points to grab. More importantly, he was an absolute stud at Homestead in the XFINITY Series. After finishing fourth in his debut in 2017, Reddick won the race and the title in both 2018 and 2019. I don’t think a Top 10 finish, some stage points and 30-plus differential points are out of the question.
Cole Custer ($8,300)
Custer hasn’t shown a ton of upside, but he has shown a stable floor at the mile-and-a-half tracks. He has finished 19th or better in all four races, posting a 17.0 average finish. Custer also posted an impressive resume at Homestead at the XFINITY level, logging a win and two runner-up finishes in his last three starts. He starts way back in 35th, and I think he can at least manage a Top 20 finish and 30-plus differential points.