We are now down to just three races left in the 2023 NASCAR season. Last week saw a dominant run from Kyle Larson as he won the South Point 400. And we even had some drama with post-race tech inspections. Ryan Blaney was initially disqualified which would’ve put him in a massive hole in the playoff standings. Fortunately for him and Team Penske, the disqualification was rescinded on Monday. This weekend, NASCAR heads to South Florida for the final 1.5-mile track of the year. This is always one of the best races each year. This track requires strategy and is heavy on tire wear. Kyle Larson got the win last week at Vegas. And this track is easily one of his best. Here is this week’s 4EVER 400 preview to get you ready for Sunday’s race!
Homestead-Miami Speedway is a 1.5-mile oval with a ton of tire wear as mentioned above. It produces some of the best racing year in and year out. It’s a shame it only gets one race each year. But this is always one of the best races and it used to host the championship. Homestead is also unique because there are multiple grooves you can run. I mention that Kyle Larson loves this track so much because he loves to run along the wall, similar to Darlington. Even last week at Vegas, we saw drivers utilize the multiple grooves and we had a pretty entertaining race. This week should be no different. Here are the drivers to have on your radar for Sunday’s race.
4EVER 400 Preview: The Top Picks
Kyle Larson (#5 Chevrolet)
As mentioned in last week’s South Point 400 Preview, we were right to be early on Kyle Larson. He won this race a year ago leading 199 of the 267 laps with 109 fastest laps. He registered a perfect driver rating of 150 claiming his first Homestead win. He’s finished fifth or better in five of his last seven races here leading over 100 laps in three of those races. He’s easily the favorite to win this race even after winning last week. You kind of just lock him in. Set it and forget it. He’ll likely be the most popular play this weekend. It’s up to you whether you ride the wave or fade.
Denny Hamlin (#11 Toyota)
Hamlin has won Homestead three times in his career and in each win, he’s led over 70 laps. Hamlin’s turned the intensity up in the playoffs. He had a poor finish at Darlington but he did lead 177 laps. He then grabbed top-five finishes at Kansas (runner-up), Bristol (winner), Texas, and Talladega. But as is the case with this week’s top picks, we have the trend of drivers running well in this package.
William Byron (#24 Chevrolet)
Are these the same top picks as last week? Yep! But we’re in the same package. We’re on another intermediate track with even more tire wear than last week. Byron led 32 laps in this race a year ago and had an average running position of 6.0 despite finishing 12th. Byron did win Vegas in the Spring but had a relatively dull race a week ago. He even has a win at Homestead under his belt from back in 2021. I assure you we’ll have some different names in the top picks next week for Martinsville. But for Homestead, I’m running with these three up top once again.
4EVER 400 Preview: Wouldn’t Bet Against Them
Tyler Reddick (#45 Toyota)
Tyler Reddick draws a ton of comparisons to Kyle Larson as both love running the higher line along the wall. Reddick wrecked in this race a year ago but in his two other Cup Series races at Homestead, he finished second and fourth. He won Homestead twice in the Xfinity Series and has looked great on high tire wear tracks in the Cup Series. Since the start of 2022, Reddick has finished second (twice) at Darlington, and he led 90 laps early in 2022 at Auto Club before some late race misfortunes resulted in him finishing 24th. He will arguably run the higher line along the wall at will like Larson. He’s a great pivot at maybe half the ownership of Larson.
Brad Keselowski (#6 Ford)
Keselowski has come on strong to finish the year. He led 38 laps last week in Vegas and grabbed a top five finish. In his career at Homestead, he’s never won. However, he did grab a top five last year at this track in the first year featuring the NextGen car and he’s been arguably top 10 in this package in 2023. Keselowski is a savvy veteran. He has plenty of experience on comparable high-tire wear tracks and is coming off a great performance last week at Vegas. He’s still searching for that first win since joining RFK Racing but we know these cars can compete since Chris Buescher has four wins over the last 15 months.
Ross Chastain (#1 Chevrolet)
Chastain won Nashville at the end of June and then kind of just coasted to the playoffs. His spot was locked up, but there were a lot of questions about this team entering the postseason. He was eliminated in the round of 12 after making the championship four last year but he’s been racing well overall in the playoffs. He grabbed a top five at Darlington in September and finished fifth last week at Vegas. Earlier this year, in the first Darlington race and at Auto Club, he led over 90 laps in both. He finished second to Kyle Larson in this race a year ago. Perhaps we should have Chastain on our radar as a high-tire wear specialist.
4EVER 400 Preview: The Sleepers
Austin Dillon (#3 Chevrolet)
Austin Dillon won’t win this race by any means. But he’ll be cheap and have a chance to finish top 12. In seven straight races at Homestead for Dillon, he’s finished top 12 in all of them gaining at least five spots of position differential in each race. That’s pretty damn consistent. Now he is a bit of a gamble. 2023 has been a disaster for Dillon. He’s wrecked 10 times in 33 races and doesn’t have a top 10 finish since the end of July. Recent form isn’t on his side, but track history certainly is.
Austin Cindric (#2 Team Penske)
We don’t have a ton to work off of with Cindric. Truthfully, since winning the Daytona 500 at the beginning of 2022, he’s been a dud. But in this race last year he started P26 and finished 19th. He ran Homestead five times in the Xfinity Series and grabbed three top five finishes and led 187 laps across his last four races at this track. Is he trending well? Absolutely not. He’s finished outside the top 20 in every playoff race except Talladega. He’ll be cheap and won’t have a ton of exposure. Just keep him in mind as a punt in large-field Tournaments.
John Hunter Nemechek (#42 Chevrolet)
I’m not sure how this worked out, but JHN will drive a Chevy for Sunday’s race. It’s odd simply because he’s been in the Toyota camp for so long. But with Legacy Motor Club switching to Toyota next year, and JHN taking over the 42-car, it appears they worked something out with NASCAR. Either way, JHN is an interesting play. He’s easily the favorite to win the Xfinity Series championship. He’s been great on the comparable tracks this year in that series. He won Auto Club earlier this year, grabbed a pair of top-five finishes at Darlington, and finished second last week at Vegas after starting from the rear. Remember, these are Xfinity Series results. We do need to recalibrate a bit as he’ll run the Cup Series race. But there is some sneaky potential for him as a value play.