Driver Handicaps: Homestead

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. - This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season-ending Ford 400. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 267-lap event.

Who's HOT at Homestead-Miami
• Matt Kenseth (2007) and Greg Biffle (2004-2006) have combined to win the last four races.
• Jimmie Johnson has finished in the top 10 in five of the last six races.
• Carl Edwards leads all drivers with a 7.8 average finish.
• Jeff Gordon leads all drivers with seven top 10s.
• Denny Hamlin has finished third in the last two events.
• Kevin Harvick has the best average finish (8.8) amomg all drivers that have competed in all races on the new configuration.
• Martin Truex Jr. holds the best driver rating at 116.1.

Who Else to Watch at Homestead-Miami
• Kyle Busch has the best average finish (6.9) on 1.5-mile tracks in 2008.
• David Ragan finished 10th in his Homestead debut last season.
• Jamie McMurray is ending the 2008 season strong, finishing third in the last two events.
• Kurt Busch scored his third top five at Homestead last season.
• Tony Stewart has two wins on the old configuration and two top 10s on the new.
• Jeff Burton captured his first top 10 with Richard Childress Racing at Homestead-Miami last season.

Track Performers
Kyle Busch has posted the best average finish (6.9) on the nine 1.5-mile tracks in 2008. Two weeks ago at Texas, Carl Edwards won his fourth race of the season on a 1.5-mile speedway. His back-to-back wins at Atlanta and Texas lowered his average finish to 13.6 in the nine races this season. Greg Biffle is second in finishing average (8.6) thanks to eight top 10s. 1.5-mile tracks: Las Vegas, Atlanta (1.54-mile), Texas, Charlotte, Chicago and Kansas.

Take it to the Bank
Kevin Harvick leads all drivers in finishing average (8.8) in the five races on Homestead-Miami's variable banking. Carl Edwards actually has the best average finish among all drivers, but has only competed in four races. Jeff Gordon (9.0) and Greg Biffle (10.2) also have solid average finishes in the five races. David Ragan finished 10th in his Homestead debut last season.

Qualifying Tidbits
Five active Cup drivers have started on the pole for the last six events at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kurt Busch, who won the poles in 2002 and 2004 while driving for Jack Roush, is the only multiple pole winner at the track. Busch is also the only active driver to have won a race from the pole - 2002. Bill Elliott won the 2001 Homestead race from the pole, marking the first and last time a Dodge has been driven to victory lane at the track. Current points leader Jimmie Johnson won the pole for last year's Ford 400. Jamie McMurray set the current track qualifying record in 2003 with a speed of 181.111 mph. All but two races at Homestead-Miami Speedway have been won from a starting position within the top 10. The front row has produced four race winners - two from the pole and two from the second starting position. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of Homestead-Miami Winners

Chase Contenders at Homestead-Miami
Driver
Races
Poles
Wins
Top Fives
Top 10s
DNFs
Avg. Finish
Driver Rating
1 Jimmie Johnson
7
1
0
2
5
1
13.4
85.0
2 Carl Edwards
4
1
0
2
3
0
7.8
107.2
3 Greg Biffle
6
0
3
3
3
1
12.7
111.0
4 Jeff Burton
9
0
0
3
4
0
13.1
84.4
5 Kevin Harvick
7
0
0
2
5
0
10.1
88.4
6 Clint Bowyer
2
0
0
0
1
0
24.5
79.9
7 Jeff Gordon
9
0
0
4
7
0
10.6
92.8
8 Matt Kenseth
8
0
1
2
3
2
20.0
115.6
9 Denny Hamlin
3
0
0
2
2
0
13.0
81.8
10 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
8
0
0
0
0
0
21.3
68.7
11 Kyle Busch
3
0
0
0
0
1
33.0
76.6
12 Tony Stewart
9
0
2
3
4
0
12.2
81.0


Homestead-Miami Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2008)
*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Greg Biffle
1. Kurt Busch
1. Martin Truex Jr. - 6.7
2. Kasey Kahne
2. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Matt Kenseth - 8.4
3. Matt Kenseth
3. Carl Edwards
3. Greg Biffle - 8.8
4. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Matt Kenseth
4. Carl Edwards - 9.1
5. Carl Edwards
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Kasey Kahne - 10.3
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Greg Biffle - 688
1. Martin Truex Jr. - 137
1. Martin Truex Jr. - 116.1
2. Carl Edwards - 684
2. Jeff Gordon - 124
2. Matt Kenseth - 115.6
3. Matt Kenseth - 648
2. Casey Mears - 124
3. Greg Biffle - 111.0
4. Kasey Kahne - 561
4. Carl Edwards - 119
4. Carl Edwards - 107.2
5. Mark Martin - 558
5. Ryan Newman - 107
5. Kasey Kahne - 97.4


*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating : Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


RacingOne Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Kurt Busch
Pete Pistone: Jimmie Johnson
Rachael West: Carl Edwards
Kym Opalenik: Greg Biffle

Top 20 Driver Notes - Based on Current Standings

1. Jimmie Johnson: Last year at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnson won the pole and finished seventh to clinch his second consecutive Cup Series championship. In 2005, Johnson entered the race 52 points behind leader Tony Stewart and saw his championship hopes go up in smoke when he cut a right-rear tire on lap 127 that sent him into the Turn 3 wall. The 40th-place finish was his worst performance at HMS in seven career starts. Prior to 2005, Johnson posted three consecutive finishes of eighth or better, including a runner-up finish in 2004 when he lost the title to Kurt Busch by a mere eight points. This weekend Johnson, who can secure the title with a 36th-place finish, will be driving the same car (chassis No. 504) that won three races this season. This car last finished 18th at Texas Motor Speedway last month.

2. Carl Edwards: Edwards has yet to finish outside the top 15 in four starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His 7.8 average finish is currently the best among all drivers. In 2004, Edwards led 94 laps, marking the only time he has been up front in Cup competition at HMS. This weekend's chassis (No. 540) is the same one Edwards finished second with at Kansas.

3. Greg Biffle: Biffle's streak of three consecutive victories at Homestead-Miami Speedway came to an end last season after he finished 13th. This weekend he will look to lower his Homestead finishing average (12.7) by racing the same car (chassis No. RK-571) that finished second at Auto Club Speedway.

4. Jeff Burton: This weekend Jeff Burton will be making his fifth start at Homestead-Miami Speedway with Richard Childress Racing. His best finish with the team came last year when he took the checkered flag in eighth. Burton's previous track starts came with Roush Racing where he posted three top fives - all coming on Homestead's old configuration. This weekend Burton will drive the same car (chassis No. 255) that finished 11th at Michigan in August.

5. Kevin Harvick: Harvick currently holds the best average finish (10.1) among all drivers that have competed in five or more events at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Four of his last five starts have resulted in top 10s, including a second-place in the first race on the track's new configuration in 2003. This weekend he will shoot for his sixth top 10 at HMS by driving the same car (chassis No. 254) that finished seventh at Texas Motor Speedway last month.

6. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer finished 10th in his first Sprint Cup start at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2006. A broken exhaust pipe, which ultimately resulted in a transmission failure due to excessive heat, relegated him to a 39th-place finish in 2007. This weekend he will look to lock up his 17th top 10 of the season by driving the same car (chassis No. 247) that most recently finished fourth at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks ago.

7. Jeff Gordon: Gordon is coming off his fourth top five at Homestead-Miami after finishing fourth in 2007. The finish also lowered his finishing average in the five races on the new track configuration to 9.0. His 24th-place finish in the 2006 race marked only the second time he has finished outside the top 10 in nine starts at HMS. Gordon has led 46 laps at HMS, with most of them coming in the 2005 race when he was up front for 39 laps. This weekend Gordon will have one last shot to continue his streak of at least winning one race every season since 1994.

8. Matt Kenseth: Over the past two seasons, Kenseth has boosted his Homestead-Miami Speedway finishing average to 22.0 after three consecutive finishes of sixth or better, which includes a win last season. With finishes of 19th or worse in his five previous starts, Homestead is Kenseth's worst oval on the circuit based on finishing average. This weekend Kenseth will look to continue to turn his luck around at HMS by driving a brand new car (chassis No. RK-616) in the Ford 400.

9. Denny Hamlin: This weekend Denny Hamlin will be making his third career Sprint Cup Series start at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In his first attempt in 2005, Hamlin had to start at the rear of the field in a back-up car after crashing his No. 11 Chevrolet on his qualifying attempt. He finished 33rd in that event. In the past two events he bounced back to finish third. The FedEx team will unload the same car (chassis No. 204) that finished ninth at Las Vegas in March.

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr: Earnhardt Jr. has yet to post a top-10 finish in eight starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His best finish of 13th came in his first start in 2000. In 2002 he qualified inside the top 10 (second) for the only time, and led 46 laps before a broken valve spring knocked him out of contention. This weekend Earnhardt will make his Homestead debut with Hendrick Motorsports driving the same car (chassis No. 499) that finished 13th at Kansas Speedway.

11. Kyle Busch: Homestead-Miami Speedway is Kyle Busch's worst track on the circuit based on his 33.0 finishing average. However, his starting average is the best at 8.3. Busch hopes his success on 1.5-mile tracks in 2008 will carry over to Homestead where he will make his first track start with Joe Gibbs Racing.

12. Tony Stewart: Stewart's finishing average (12.2) at Homestead-Miami Speedway took a hit last season when he finished 30th. Stewart's two wins on the old configuration put him with Greg Biffle as the only multiple winners at HMS. This weekend he will be shooting for his third top-10 finish on the new variable banking in the same car (chassis No. 216) that last finished 26th at Martinsville.

13. David Ragan: Ragan has only one previous Cup start at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2008 he qualified seventh and finished 10th. This weekend Ragan will pilot the same car (chassis No. RK-615) that finished 11th at Texas Motor Speedway.

14. Kasey Kahne: Homestead-Miami Speedway is the site of Kahne's first NASCAR win. In 2003 Kahne won the Nationwide Series event from the third starting position. Sunday will mark his fifth Sprint Cup start at the track. His best effort came in 2006 when he started from the pole and led 90 laps en route to a fourth-place finish for his only top 15 at the track.

15. Martin Truex Jr: Over the past two seasons, Truex Jr. boosted his Homestead-Miami Speedway finishing average from 32.0 to 13.3 with respective finishes of second and sixth. His average driver rating of 116.1 is best among all drivers in the last three races at HMS.

16. Jamie McMurray: This weekend will be McMurray's third start with Roush Fenway Racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His first four starts came with Chip Ganassi Racing, where his finishes consist of two top 10s. His best start came in 2003 when he set the current qualifying record by winning the pole. McMurray, who finished 14th with Roush last year, will pilot the same car (chassis RK-463) that finished 32nd at Martinsville Speedway last month.

17. Ryan Newman: Newman has posted an average finish 20.2 in six starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His best finish came in his first start in 2002 when he drove a Ford to a sixth-place finish. Newman's only other top 10 (seventh) came in 2005 when he switched from his Dodge Charger back to the previous Dodge Intrepid. This weekend Newman will make his last start with Penske Racing in the same car (chassis No. PRS-577) that finished 16th at Kansas Speedway.

18. Kurt Busch: In 2006, Busch finished 43rd in his Homestead-Miami Speedway debut with Penske Racing after a crash took him out of contention. He rebounded in 2007 to finish second after leading 17 laps. Due to a suspension by Jack Roush, Busch missed the 2005 race at HMS. Busch, who is the only multiple pole winner at HMS, has two top fives - including a win in 2002 - in five starts at the track with Roush Fenway Racing. This weekend Busch will return in the same car (chassis No. PRS-579) that finished sixth at Atlanta last month.

19. Brian Vickers: Homestead-Miami Speedway is Vickers' worst track on the schedule based on his 31.6 average finish. This weekend he will swap cars with Scott Speed as he shoots for his first top-15 finish at HMS.

20. Casey Mears: Although Mears captured one top five at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2005, Mears has posted finishes of 26th or worse in his three other starts with Chip Ganassi Racing. Last year he lowered his finishing average to 21.2 after he finished 16th in his track debut with Hendrick Motorsports. This weekend he will make his last start with Hendrick driving the same car (chassis No. 497) that finished 14th at Texas Motor Speedway.

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