RaceDayScore NASCAR: Ford EcoBoost 400

RaceDayScore NASCAR: Ford EcoBoost 400

This article is part of our RaceDayScore NASCAR series.

Ford EcoBoost 400

Location: Homestead, Fla.
Course: Homestead-Miami Speedway
Format: 1.5-mile oval
Laps: 267

Race Preview

Joey Logano's late win in Phoenix earned him a spot alongside Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards as three of four finalists to battle for the title of 2016 Sprint Cup champion this week at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kyle Busch cruised to yet another top-10 finish as runner-up behind Logano for a chance to defend his title from last season, rounding out the four championship contenders. The season now all comes down to one winner-take-all race for the championship protagonists, with 36 other drivers anxious to add a final win to their 2016 scorecard as the season draws to a close. Hoisting the Sprint Cup after Sunday's race would add to the championship tallies of Johnson and Busch, but would be maiden championships for both Edwards and Logano. The latter drivers have been in contention for the championship in the final race in the past, but the pressure on all drivers is as high as it ever will be this Sunday.

Key Stats at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Number of previous races: 17
Winners from pole: 2
Winners from top-5 starters: 10
Winners from top-10 starters: 12
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 2
Fastest race: 142.245 mph

Last 10 Homestead Winners

2015 - Kyle Busch
2014 - Kevin Harvick
2013 - Denny Hamlin
2012 - Jeff Gordon
2011 - Tony Stewart
2010 - Carl Edwards
2009 - Denny Hamlin
2008 - Carl Edwards
2007 - Matt Kenseth
2006 - Greg Biffle

Homestead-Miami Speedway is a 1.5-mile oval, just like a number of circuits on the Sprint Cup calendar. The layout is significantly different from those other tracks, though. Homestead has undergone a number of reconfigurations throughout the years, with each revision enhancing the racing. Progressive banking has made passing more common, but the track remains one of the more difficult on which to overtake. Teams test at the circuit often, so despite the circuit appearing on the calendar for just one race, there is a level of familiarity. Handling and track position are two important factors that will help determine the outcome this week. Tire failures are not uncommon as teams push the boundaries of their equipment, and track position will often play into strategy. While it's difficult to make passes on the track, pit strategy to get a driver to the front of the running order will have increased emphasis this week. Fantasy players should look for fast machines early in practice, and qualifying position also will be an important consideration as lineups are finalized for Sunday.

RACE DAY SCORE VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $60K Salary Cap)

Tier 1 Values

Kevin Harvick - $11,600
Joey Logano - $11,400
Kyle Busch - $11,300
Carl Edwards - $11,100

Tier 2 Values

Denny Hamlin - $10,900
Jimmie Johnson - $10,800
Chase Elliott - $10,600
Kyle Larson - $10,200

Tier 3 Values

Trevor Bayne - $9,800
Alex Bowman - $9,700
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $9,600
Ty Dillon - $9,100

Long-Shot Values

Casey Mears - $8,600
Chris Buescher - $8,300
Brian Scott - $8,200
Michael McDowell - $7,600

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($60K Salary Cap)

Carl Edwards - $11,100
Martin Truex Jr. - $11,100
Matt Kenseth - $11,000
Denny Hamlin - $10,900
Casey Mears - $8,600
Michael Annett - $7,100

Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota are both on good footing to secure the 2016 Sprint Cup championship this Sunday. Edwards is the driver we chose to lead the lower-risk lineup based on the fact that he has the best statistics at Homestead among his championship competitors. Kenseth adds support to the lineup after nearly winning last week in Phoenix. He won at Homestead in 2007 and has five top-10s from the last six races there. Truex also waves the Toyota flag in this option, and his average Homestead finish is 10.2 from 11 career starts. Two-time Homestead winner Hamlin also lends some heft to the lineup after he started from pole there last year and scored five top-10s in the last six races at the track. Mears can always deliver a fast practice or qualifying effort. Both he and Annett should be counted on to deliver a positive finish differential, with greater upside potential on the finishing position with Mears.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($60K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $11,600
Joey Logano - $11,400
Jimmie Johnson - $10,800
Kyle Larson - $10,200
Brian Scott - $8,200
Michael McDowell - $7,600

The higher-risk lineup for the championship finale gives up a little potential on the fifth and sixth selections in favor of grabbing the winner of Sunday's race. Harvick won the event two years ago and is likely to be one of the race-day favorites, while Logano will be gunning for his first win at the track and first series title. Logano has a boatload of momentum ahead of Sunday's race, as he is the most recent winner with a clutch performance in Phoenix. Johnson also isn't to be counted out. The former champion hopes to equal some of the sport's greatest names with another title this week, which could come alongside his first Homestead win. Larson still sits on one Sprint Cup victory but is closing out the year as one of the strongest drivers each week. He finished fifth at this track last season. Scott has just one Homestead start in the Sprint Cup, but he sits just outside the top-30 drivers in points and finished fourth in the 2015 Homestead Xfinity race. Lastly, McDowell has had a dismal Homestead career with four DNFs but he finished the last two efforts at the track with an average finish of 27th despite an average start of 33.5.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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