NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead

The 2021 NASCAR  Cup series has gotten off to a great start. We've seen two spectacular races with two first-time winners. In fact, it's only the third season in Cup series history in which two first-time winners won the first two races of the year; joining the series’ inaugural season 1949 and 1950. Will this week's race make it in the history books? Stay tuned. (And, no pressure Tyler Reddick. Just sayin'.)
This week's pick strategy:
For many years Homestead-Miami Speedway was the host track for crowning champions in all three NASCAR national series. With the stakes so high and the competition so tight, the winner of the race also tended to be the season champion. When I sort through my statistics this week it will be hard to ignore the big names like Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. They needed to be good here to vie for the championship. However, there were always a handful of potential spoilers like Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney and relative newcomer Tyler Reddick, who always seemed to run well here. This week's pick strategy will be a nod to those spoilers.
Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race and Track
Kyle Busch - 5
All with 4 - Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick
All with 3 - Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr.
All with 2 - Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman


Top 10 Driver Ratings at Homestead

Tyler Reddick............................ 115.5

Kyle Larson............................... 107.0

Kevin Harvick….................. …...106.8

Martin Truex Jr.......................... 105.9

Kyle Busch............................... 102.1

Denny Hamlin........................... 100.1

Chase Elliott............................... 96.9

Joey Logano............................... 91.6

Brad Keselowski......................... 89.0

Austin Dillon............................... 83.4

Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2020 races (16 total) among active drivers at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Last Year's Race Winner: Denny Hamlin

The Likely Suspects: My Homestead go-tos are Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola and Kyle Larson.  
My No-Brainer Pick: Denny Hamlin

My Final Four: Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson and Michael McDowell.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Tyler Reddick. The two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion is one of those aforementioned champions who got it done at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His two titles were won back-to-back years (2018-19) at Homestead. In 2017, Tyler finished the race in a respectable fourth place and led a second-best 18 laps. From his days in the Camping World Truck Series (2014-16), Tyler earned two Top 5 finishes (second and third) and one Top 10 (sixth, in his first Miami start). At last year’s Cup series race here Tyler finished fourth, after starting 24th and was named the Sunoco Rookie of the Race. 

Last week's second-look driver Chris Buescher had a respectable race result last weekend, showing the field that he is a definitely contender at road-course races. Chris started the race way back in 30th on the grid, and raced inside the Top 5 for much of the late racing action before ultimately finishing 11th in his Fastenal Ford Mustang.

“Overall, I was pretty happy with our Fastenal Mustang,” Chris said following the race. “This has been a really good road course for us. I think a lot of things we learned from the Clash got a lot better. I think I need to clean up a few things on my end, and need the field to clean up a few things on their end. At the end of the day we were able to salvage a decent day out of it, a decent finish. I’m ready to do a little bit more road racing this season for sure. I feel pretty confident we’re going to be competitive at all of them.”
Points to Ponder:
  • Seven of the 22 NASCAR Cup Series races (31.82%) at Homestead-Miami Speedway have been won from the front row: three from the first starting position and four from the second starting position.
  • Joe Gibbs Racing leads the series in wins at Homestead-Miami with eight victories.
  • Five different manufacturers have won in the NASCAR Cup Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway, led by Ford with eight victories; followed by Toyota (six), Chevrolet (five), Pontiac (two) and Dodge (one).
  • Among active drivers Denny Hamlin leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway with three (2009, 2013, 2020).
  • Kevin Harvick (2003, 2008, 2015) and Martin Truex Jr. (2006, 2018, 2019) lead the series in runner-up finishes with three each.
  • Kevin Harvick leads the series in Top 5s at Homestead-Miami with 11 Top 5s as well as Top 10s with 17 Top 10s in 20 starts. He also leads in average finishing position at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a 6.4.
  • Kyle Busch leads all active drivers with 465 laps led in 4,011 laps completed (11.5%).
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your final picks by 3:30 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, February 28th.
Enjoy the race!


Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 15 years. She launched  NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pours through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet.
When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Saturday, February 27, 2021 Rating: 5