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Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead 

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Sunday 3pm on ESPN

A rather scrambled NOTBS week continues with the final race of the season. It’s equally exciting and depressing, like being the best man in a wedding tomorrow. Ya, it’s an honor, but there’s a lot of running around and stressing over nonsense. I just can’t wait for that first beer, after I give a toast (there will be plenty of shots before the toast). But, the perfect hangover cure is coming Sunday afternoon in the form of watching greatness at Homestead. With Johnson nursing a big lead it may be anyone’s race to win.

Stay Away From

Kasey Kahne 6-1

Kahne had the second fastest car in practice but had a poor qualifying effort that will have him starting in 13th. He could certainly race his way to the front, but the numbers don’t lie; In nine career starts at Homestead, Kasey Kahne has never won, only has one top 5 finish and his average finish is 15.44. Starting 13th sets him up for a decent day, but I’m not sure we are going to see him move very far forward. Also, Homestead tends to be a bit of a microcosm of the season, although Jimmie Johnson has never won there so take it with a grain of salt, but Kahne has had numerous mechanical problems and flukey poor finishes. Maybe it’s just a gut feeling but I think Kahne is going to drop out of this race before the checkered flag waves, and at just 6-1 I am certainly passing on this bet.

Best Bets

Matt Kenseth +350

By earning the pole position today Kenseth made the statement that he is not going to go down without a fight. He is going to do everything he can to win this championship. Of course he basically needs Johnson to run into some big issues to have any chance at the title. I don’t think it would surprise anyone if Kenseth had a max points day. He has led the second most laps among active drivers, not counting Tony Stewart, at this track. His chances of winning this race are also benefited by the fact that the winner of this final race has only been the championship winner once in Homestead’s 14 years (Tony Stewart in 2011). As well as Johnson has a nice points lead and may just resort to points racing.

Kevin Harvick 7-1

Speaking of not going down without a fight, all Kevin Harvick did last week was keep himself in contention for a championship in the final race, with a max points day. Of course he is still 34 points back of Johnson, and six of Kenseth, so he will need a lot of help to win a championship. But if we learned anything last week, it’s that this #29 team is going to do everything it can to win this championship. Of course barring some foul/interesting/potentially exciting foul play, all he can do is win and lead the most laps, it’s all up to the racing gods from there.

If that is not enough to convince you that Harvick at 7-1 is a good bet, how about some numbers at Homestead. While he has never won, he has 5 top 5’s and 10 top 12’s in his 12 races here. His average finish is 7.92, which is good for second among active drivers with at least two starts.

Jeff Gordon 12-1

Jeff has been really good here. He has finished in the top 5 in half of his 14 career starts here, with his one win coming last year.

Carl Edwards 15-1

Carl is really good here. You could argue he’s the best here. Though he has only two wins to Stewart’s 3 he has led 110 more laps in five fewer races. In his 9 races he has an average finish of 6th. He is starting a bit further in the pack than he is accustomed but he should be a factor in this thing.

Best Value Bets

Denny Hamlin 12-1

Hamlin is a value play for a couple of reasons. First it’s the feel good story to a rough injury laden season. On the other hand he has won here before and is in the top 10 of average finish among actives.

Kurt Busch 20-1

He hasn’t been great here traditionally, but he is a past winner and he has been fast this week. He is starting outside of Kenseth on the front row and might give that #78 team a nice send off as he heads to SHR.

Greg Biffle 30-1

The Biff won three straight races here from 04-06. 30-1 has incredible value since only Tony Stewart could match that number, only he has a broken leg.

My Pick

Jimmie Johnson 12-1

Jimmie has not been great here. But a lot of that could be contributed to the fact that he has had good size points leads in his, soon to be six championship seasons. That also may be one of the reasons Smoke is the only guy to close his title year with a win. But 12-1 really?! It’s Jimmie freaking Johnson and the #48 Lowes team. If they haven’t won at a track they will be gunning to end that run. Plus what’s the safest place on the track? Out front.


Friday, November 15, 2013

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