The top drivers on 1.5-mile tracks used to be a select, yet elite small group. If you wanted to win on the intermediate race tracks at NASCAR’s top level, you were going to have to go through Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick or Jimmie Johnson to do so. Now, they have some company up front.
Out of the last 69 races on 1.5-mile tracks, 57 of them have been won by a handful of drivers. Martin Truex Jr. (12) leads them but Kevin Harvick (11), Jimmie Johnson (10), Brad Keselowski (10), Kyle Busch (8) and Joey Logano (7) have been at their best on intermediate race tracks too.
With Sunday’s race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway being a 1.5-mile track, we’ve seen nine different winners in the last 10 races on intermediates overall including a new driver to win all four of them in 2020.
It all started almost a year ago, on June 30 at the Chicagoland Speedway to be exact, with Alex Bowman. Then, Kentucky Speedway (Kurt Busch), Las Vegas in the Fall (Martin Truex Jr), Kansas (Denny Hamlin), Texas (Kevin Harvick), Homestead (Kyle Busch) and Las Vegas this year (Joey Logano), Charlotte (Brad Keselowski/Chase Elliott) and Atlanta (Harvick) followed suit.
Now, it’s to South Florida. We’re running out of names to keep this going? All that’s left on the big teams are William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer or Aric Almirola. But, we’ve had four straight years of different winners at Homestead too and nine in the last 10 years. The only repeat winner has been Kyle Busch.
Do we see this trend continue?
If so, don’t sleep on rookie Tyler Reddick. He won the last two Xfinity Series races at Homestead and likes to rim ride the outside SAFER barrier. Also, in five career Homestead starts across NXS and Truck Series competition, he’s yet to finish worse than fourth. We could see a first time winner on Sunday.
What about a new winner on 1.5-mile tracks in general? Byron, has never led a lap and was 24th and 39th in his two Homestead tries. Johnson, has five finishes of 13th or worse in his last nine Miami starts. Jones, did finish third last year but was only 21st and 27th respectively in the two years prior. Like Byron, he’s never led a lap there. Blaney, has no top 10’s in five tries and too has never led a lap. Almirola has one top 15 in his last seven Homestead starts.
Bowyer, would be my top pick among them with with 10 top 12 finishes in his last 12 Homestead tries including an eighth place run in 2018 and sixth last year.
If we want to keep a new winner trend going at Homestead, Bowyer, Jones or someone like Austin Dillon (5 straight top 15 finishes – 14th, 12th, 11th, 11th, 8th) or Brad Keselowksi (5 top 7’s in his last 7 tries) make the most sense.
This track, well its an aged surface and while you would think the Penske drivers should be strong, they’ll likely all get top 10 finishes but maybe not top fives.
Keselowski, is their top option as he has three top 10s in four starts on like tracks to Homestead in 2020, two of which being in the top five. At Homestead itself, he has five top seven finishes in his last seven tries.
Logano, has five straight top six finishes at Homestead, but only two top 10s on aged surfaces this season, none being in the top five.
Blaney, has never finished in the top 10 at Homestead and has one top 10 on aged surfaces this season, but he also has four top four finishes in his last five tries on the year too.
Harvick, has two wins in his last three tries on older surfaces including being on the most similar tracks.
Busch, has three runner-ups in four tries in like tracks in 2020 and five straight top six finishes at Homestead, three of which being in the top two.
Hamlin, has four top six finishes in as many tries on older surfaces in 2020 but one top six in his last seven Homestead starts.
Truex, has three straight top twos in Homestead, won on Wednesday, won both stages in Atlanta on Sunday and has three top 10s in four tries on aged surfaces this season too.