We’ve finally make it through the grueling 36 race season as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The championship battle is down to two drivers with the rest just racing for momentum going into next year.
In season finales, it’s hard to predict who will run well as some guys have packed it in and are simply going through the motions one last time while others want to end the season on a high note in victory lane.
In your fantasy leagues if you’re not in the hunt for your championship, you certainly want to go out on top with bragging rights of doing good the last week of the season. After all, you’ve hung around for 36 weeks, so why give up now?
These are the drivers I feel comfortable with that can compete on Sunday and ones I’d stay away from.
Jimmie Johnson doesn’t have the best stats in Miami, but he’s one I wouldn’t pick against this weekend. After a disappointing weekend last week in Phoenix, he now sits 20 points out of the lead and needing to win to put himself with a shot at the title. There’s no one in the garage I’d pick in the situation over Johnson.
Don’t let his bad stats at Miami fool you, either. Out of 11 career starts, he only has four top fives. He does have seven top 10′s though with an average finish of 13.5. The reason why he goes for solid top 10′s and not wins at Miami is due to him basically having the championship won when the series heads there. He’s never been in the situation that he’s in this year where he needs to win to compete for the title. In the past all he needed usually was a solid top 20 and he was the champion.
Watch out for the Team 48 on Sunday as I think they will win and scratch off another track Johnson has never won at.
Martin Truex Jr.
Truex Jr. is a surprisingly great driver at Miami and could honestly pick up his second career win there this weekend. Truex has made seven starts at Miami and has finished in the top 10 five times to go along with two top fives. He has the second best average running position at 8.7 to go along with the second best driver rating 109.7, second best fastest laps run, and second fastest average green-flag speed.
Truex does rank first in quality passes and I would think he should be running up front all day on Sunday. Don’t be surprised if the NAPA Toyota is in victory lane on Sunday evening.
It seems like Ford’s always run well at Miami. It could be that Roush’s drivers always succeed there and Matt Kenseth is among the best. I would expect it to be emotional for Kenseth and the whole No. 17 team as this will be the final time he will pilot the No. 17 Ford after 12+ years of doing so. I would expect them to want to go out on top one last time.
Miami has been kind to Kenseth as he has one win, three top fives, and five top 10′s in 12 races. His average running position of 9.6 ranks third best while he also ranks third in driver rating, average green-flag speed, and laps in the top 15.
Expect a lot from Kenseth this weekend as he is a safe bet for a solid finish.
Edwards has had a dismal season in 2012. After tying for the championship last year, he’s winless and buried in 15th place heading to the season finale this weekend. If there’s any track where Edwards is going to turn things around and end up in victory lane, it’s definitely Miami.
Edwards is the best driver ever at Homestead. He has two wins, five top fives, and seven top 10′s in eight career races. He’s led a series high 560 laps and has started on the pole twice. His worst finish in those eight starts is 14th.
With that being said, Ford’s run well at Miami and Edwards is the best. I wouldn’t pick against him on Sunday.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
It’s been a difficult Chase for Earnhardt. After struggling to get the Chase started he missed two races due to a concussion. He’s last in the points and basically has packed it in. Mix that with always statistically struggling in Miami and you have a recipe for a sub 20th place finish on Sunday.
Out of 12 career starts, Junior has yet to finish in the top 10 there. He has an average finish of 23.1 in those races. Stay away from Earnhardt on Sunday.
“Rowdy” has been running very good during the Chase. The problem is he’s not part of the field. I think his string of surprising good luck comes to an end Sunday. The reason is that he’s never been strong down at HMS.
Out of seven starts he only has one top 10 and has an average finish of 16.4. He’s only led 46 career laps there and has two DNF’s. He scared me to start on Sunday.
The end of a run with JGR is what awaits Logano after Miami. He’s not running the best right now and has struggled in Homestead in his three starts. He has yet to finish in the top 10 during those three tries and only has one top 20 finish.
With the youngster just ready to get to Penske, I would think they’ve packed it in and just going through the motions this weekend.
Juan Pablo Montoya
It seems like I’ve had at least one of the EGR drivers on this list every week. I’m honestly not trying to pick on them as I like both Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray, but they’ve just struggled this year.
Montoya, has never had success at Homestead in NASCAR and I don’t think that will change this Sunday. Out of six starts, he’s only finished in the top 20 twice and has an average finish of 27th. With him running around that spot the last few weeks, I would expect him to run there this weekend as well.
Don’t pick Montoya this weekend.
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