The penultimate race of the Round of 8 is here for Saturday’s Contender Boats 300 (4:30 p.m. ET, USA, MRN) at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Josh Berry staked claim of one of the four Championship 4 spots via his triumph last Saturday in Las Vegas. It was a 1-2-3 day for JR Motorsports as they have to enter Saturday’s race in Homestead as the favorites to score a 2nd win in the Round of 8 in as many tries.
Noah Gragson (+44) leads the points among non winners this round with Ty Gibbs (+25) and Justin Allgaier (+15) each ahead of the cutline. Austin Hill (-15), AJ Allmendinger (-16), Brandon Jones (-27) and Sam Mayer (-36) each sit below it.
Redemption at Homestead For Gragson?
Noah Gragson’s favorite track is Homestead. This is where he’s at his best. He has 3 top 5’s in 4 tries and the one he didn’t was the last time out where he was leading before getting caught up in a crash with a lapped car. He led 83 laps (most) in race 1 of 2020 but didn’t win. A day later he led 81 more laps (most) and didn’t win again after passing the lead over to Harrison Burton with 2 to go. This place owes him one. At Darlington, a similar track, he finished 2nd and 1st respectively this year.
Brandon Jones/Austin Hill Stealing A Win?
I don’t think most had Brandon Jones or Austin Hill making it to the Championship 4 this year. They likely had Ty Gibbs, Noah Gragson, AJ Allmendinger and Justin Allgaier. However, they likely also didn’t have Josh Berry either and he now has 1 of the 4 spots clinched to the final round next month.
Can Jones or Hill join him on Saturday? Both take up 2 of the 4 spots currently below the cut line but Homestead is also a great track for both too.
Jones has 5 straight top 8’s there including a pair of runner-up finishes in his last 2 at that. He finished 7th at Darlington earlier this season and has 5 top 10 finishes over his last 6 overall 2022 starts.
For Hill, he won the Truck Series race in 2019, was 7th in the Truck race in 2020 and driving for a team that’s won twice here in the last 4 tries. He also has 3 top 6 finishes in his last 5 starts on the season at that.
If one of them can reach victory lane, then it will set up a chaotic Martinsville race to where Allmendinger, Gragson, Gibbs and Allgaier would be fighting for 2 final spots…
Can AJ Allmendinger Rebound?
AJ Allmendinger went from the highest of highs in two straight victories to close out the opening round, to the lowest of lows in having two loose wheels in the end of last Saturday’s race in Las Vegas. With that (22nd place finish) plus Josh Berry winning, it bumps Allmendinger to 16 points below the cutline with 2 races remaining in the Round of 8. Can he make that up and advance to the Championship 4 for the second straight year?
Homestead may be a spot that is won by Noah Gragson which would leave 2 spots to Phoenix left a week from now. If not Gragson, Brandon Jones and even Austin Hill are both very good on the South Florida race track and in turn would be worse factors to win than Gragson because you have to think that Gragson and Ty Gibbs can make it to Phoenix on points.
Gragson is +44 and Gibbs +25 and should be good enough to extend that advantage on Saturday. That could then force Allmendinger to a win or go home situation in Martinsville to bump one of them or even Justin Allgaier (+15) out.
Allgaier has 3 top 10 finishes in 4 Martinsville starts including 2 of which being in the top 5. Allmendinger was 7th in this very race last October and 3rd this past spring.
It goes to show you how one bad result or one unlucky break can turn this postseason on its head.
Homestead NXS Race Trends
- Every winner since 2008 has started in the top 10 here (15 races)
- 5 of the last 7 winners came from the top 2 Rows including 4 of the 5 from the front row
- Chevrolet has won 3 of the last 5 but over the last 3 races, each manufacturer has won.
- The last 7 winners hailed from the big teams:
- JGR (2016, 2020 race 1)
- SHR (2017, 2020 race 2)
- RCR (2019, 2021)
- JRM (2018)
- Stage 1: The 1st 3 races the eventual winner finished in the top 4 in each. However, they’ve scored 0 stage points int he last 3.
- Stage 2: The eventual race winner has scored stage points in all 6 races (all in the top 8)
- The thing is, other than 2017, no other race winner won a stage here
- 4 of the last 5 races the driver to lead the most laps failed to win in the end here.
- The last 3 led a combined 18 laps.
- 9 Gragson – He’s going to get a win here soon. Why not now? He has 3 top 5’s in 4 tries and the one he didn’t was the last time out where he was leading before getting caught up in a crash with a lapped car. He led 83 laps (most) in race 1 of 2020 but didn’t win. A day later he led 81 more laps (most) and didn’t win again after passing the lead over to Harrison Burton with 2 to go. This place owes him one. At Darlington, a similar track, he finished 2nd and 1st respectively this year.
- 19 Jones – 5 straight top 8’s here including a pair of runner-up finishes in his last 2 at that. He finished 7th at Darlington earlier this season and has 5 top 10 finishes over his last 6 overall 2022 starts.
- 21 Hill – He won the Truck Series race in 2019, was 7th in the Truck race in 2020 and driving for a team that’s won twice here in the last 4 tries.
- 16 Allmendinger – He was 4th in 2020, led 45 laps last year and was 8th and 3rd respectively this season on Darlington. On top of that, Allmendinger has 11 top 7 finishes in his last 12 starts on the year too.
- 11 Hemric – 2 of his last 3 Homestead finishes were in the top 4..
- Riley Herbst – 3 top 11’s in as many tries as well as being 3rd in May at Darlington. This team has fared well here with Cole Custer and Chase Briscoe too.
- Myatt Snider – 7th and 1st are his last 2 starts here for 2 different teams.
- Justin Allgaier: 1 top 10 in his last 6 starts here including 0 top 5’s in 13 overall starts on the track. He’s led 7 total laps.
- Josh Berry: 25th and 10th are his 2 finishes here. He was 18th and 8th at Darlington this season too.
- Ty Gibbs: He’s a rookie and only 18th and 6th in his 2 Darlington starts this season.