Want to win Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 (3:30 pm ET, FOX, MRN) at the Homestead-Miami Speedway? You better have a top 10 car from the get go. Yes, no practice nor qualifying, but you better unload off the hauler Sunday morning on top of your game. I’m saying, even with a race being 267 laps and having 400 miles of racing, you need to get a top 10 car by mile 120.
Why you may be asking?
Well, since NASCAR began using stage breaks in their races in 2017, the eventual race winner of the Cup Series race on the South Florida 1.5 mile track has finished in the top five of every stage run. They’re 6-for-6. This weekend, the top cars will all start up front. The draw will have the top 12 in owners points all start in the top 6 Rows. That makes it even harder for the guys coming from mid pack on back, because they’re going to have to pass the seasons fastest cars to do so. Plus, six of the last seven races at Homestead have been won from a driver coming from a top five starting spot anyways.
Kyle Busch won last years race and was third and first respectively in the two stages. Joey Logano was victorious in 2018 and was fourth and third respectively himself. Martin Truex Jr. was fifth and second respectively in his win in 2017.
This season, other than stage 1 at Daytona and the first two stages at Charlotte, the eventual race winner of all 11 races this season has scored stage points. Fittingly, the last stage to score points of each race, each race winner finished in the top 10 of that segment. The average finishing spot of the second stage for the eventual race winner is 5.6.
So, if you’re not in the top 10 of Stage 2 on Sunday, you’re not going to win.