The 2022 NASCAR season is entering it’s home stretch and we FINALLY get to one of my favorite tracks on the circuit, Homestead. The last few years this track has put on some amazing racing. What makes this track so fun is the abrasive track surface and tire wear. We will see DRAMATIC fall off in lap times over the course of the run. In fact, you will see fall off in a few laps. This gives us an afternoon full of “comers and goers”, as long run cars move forward and the short run guys fall back. That tire wear, combined with the progressive banking will have these guys pushing these cars as close to the wall as possible to find speed on a long run. That’s right folks, we got ourselves a good ol’ fashioned afternoon full of rim riding and slide jobs! These guys are going to have their hands full today and I am here for it.
I expect to see a significant amount of issues throughout this race. Chaos has been the story of 2022 and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue today. Even though we did not see any of them in practice, it’s still possible for those random tire issues to show up once again today. Those are not the only tire issues we need to dodge either. As i mentioned earlier, the way you find speed here as the tires start to wear, is to move up the track and start riding as close to the wall as possible. Very similar to what we see at Darlington and what we have seen at Kansas recently. These drivers, at least the fast ones, will inch closer and closer to the wall with every passing lap. One little slip when riding close to the wall and you could be looking at a cut a tire and a ruined afternoon. It’s the nature of the beast that is Homestead, and the faster cars are going to be the ones more likely to find trouble as they are generally pushing closer to that edge.
Got to get started here with who is likely everyone’s favorite dominator play on the slate today, Tyler Reddick. Reddick has been lights out on intermediates down the stretch here and now he get’s one of his best tracks on the circuit. Long run speed in the car looks great, fastest car in practice once we got past 15 laps in. We all know Reddick likes to rip the top, going to be extremely popular. Larson is another guy cut from the same cloth who is going to be popular for very similar reasons as Reddick. I personally though have had my fill of chalk Larson for the season, so I’m getting away from him here. The dominating speed just hasn’t been there once the green flag waves this season, and there is a chance he pushes too hard and finds the wall now that he doesn’t have to point race for the play offs. He’s fine in cash since he will be popular, but I’m fading in GPPs.
My favorite guy in this range for GPP’s is Denny Hamlin. With Larson and Reddick being popular that means Denny is going to be slept on. Not only has he been one of the fastest cars all season on intermediates, but no one is better at managing tires than Denny. He showed that in practice yesterday, if you look closely at his times you will see they trend way better as the run goes on. He also knows how to get it done here as he won in 2020 in dominating fashion. He’s great at saving his equipment and he will be there at the end. I like him to get the win today and punch his ticket for the Championship 4 at Phoenix.
After Denny there are 4 guys that provide us with some solid upside in this range. Joey Logano fresh off last week’s win has been one of the best cars on intermediates through the play offs. Been great at high tire wear tracks this season and his lap times in practice trended better as the run went on. I don’t expect a ton of ownership on Joey here either. Chastain though might draw some ownership but I still like him today. Just a ton of upside from one of the faster cars on intermediates this season. Top 5 speeds in practice before a dud qualifying lap. If your looking for lower owned options with high upside in this range you can look to Martin Truex or William Byron. Truex is another guy who knows how to take care of his tires that has had success at Homestead. Practice times don’t jump off the chart, but they do indicate long run speed, Byron won here last season and starts on the pole today. Need him to lead the majority of the first stage and a solid finish, upside is definitely there.
This range has a Ton of PD upside in it. I’m highlighting the guys that stand out to me here, but you can make a case for any of these guys priced in the 7-8k range starting 15th or back. First one up on my list today is Chase Briscoe. He’s another guy that can rip the high line and we get a price tag and starting position that won’t have him super chalky. Showed top 10 speed in practice. Briscoe is not the only one in this range that can rip the high line, we also have yesterday’s Xfinity race winner Noah Gragson. Noah is still in the 48 car, great equipment and a track that he LOVES. Practice speeds would indicate it’s a great combo as he was top 7 through 15 lap averages.
Another solid PD option in this range is Erik Jones. Don’t be fooled by his practice speeds, Jones has been over performing all year and has been even better on high tire wear tracks. He has a win at Darlington and a 3rd at California earlier this season. A lot has been made of him “not being good at Homestead,” but he did finish 3rd here in 2019. Maybe that narrative will stick and won’t be as popular today. You know who for sure is not going to be popular? Michael McDowell. McDowell is a sneaky option today. He has the 9th best Avg. finish and 10th best Avg. position in the 4 intermediate playoff races. He also finished top 7 in both Darlington races this season, and he finished 6th in last years Homestead race.
I round out this range with Austin Dillon. Austin is another guy that has a knack for saving tires and as a result, it has made him really solid at Homestead. He has 6 straight finishes of 14th or better here with two top 10s. A ton of upside for a guy starting 32nd with a $7200 price tag. Dinger is a guy who showed speed in practice and I was tempted to play him, but opted against it. It’s hard to imagine he can score with the PD in this price range from his 10th starting position, unless he has a career type day here.
For me, this range starts with a couple guys that offer us some solid PD upside, Aric Almirola and Ricky Stenhouse Jr who start 28th and 27th respectively. Unsure how ownership will fall on these guys, but I anticipate Stenhouse being higher owned since he showed some speed in practice. Stenhouse does have two Top 10’s on high tire wear tracks this season. But those were earlier in the season and he has been on the struggle bus of late. He has only the 33rd best Avg. finish on intermediates in the play offs. Leaning towards fading in GPP and making him beat me if I think he’s going to be chalky. Almirola to me is a better play despite his practice speeds. He has 3 finishes of 11th or better on high tire wear tracks this season, 6th at Cali and 11th twice at Darlington. He also had a top 5 finish here at Homestead in 2020. A ton of upside and he could go overlooked.
Justin Haley is still too god damn cheap. $6300 is criminal. This kid has the 11th best average finish across the last 4 intermediate tracks. He has 5 straight finishes of 15th or better which includes two Top 5’s. Let’s not forget he also finished 3rd at another high tire wear track in Darlington earlier this season. Great GPP option today. I don’t know what to do with JHN today, he looks to have speed in this car subbing for Bubba. He looked really fast in practice, Top 5 speeds. I just don’t know if I can trust him from 4th his first time in a next gen car. He needs to finish 9th to hit 5x value, doesn’t feel like there is much upside past that unless you think he can finish Top 5 and score some fast laps. Think I’m leaning towards a fade, especially if it looks like he is getting ownership.
Ty Dillon and Corey Lajoie are both cheapo options that give us some solid PD upside. Lajoie would be my preference given his practice speed and cheaper price tag. If you really need to go cheap, then Landon Cassill is in play. He showed better practice times than most guys priced around him, and Landon is a guy that knows how to take care of a race car. I expect some attrition and Casill could find his way inside the Top 25 if we lose 6-7 cars.
Below is my Cheat Sheet for today’s Cup Series race from Homestead. I have pulled data from the 4 most recent intermediate races, all of which were in the playoffs, Vegas2, Kansas2, Texas, and Darlington2. I also have included data from yesterday’s practice session, all metrics from fastest lap to best 30 lap average. We want to key in on guys who’s average lap ranking gets better as the lap count gets higher. I have highlighted the drivers I like today, with purple representing guys who should be lower owned.