No predictions for NASCAR finale
November 19, 2016
OK, I was wrong. But I'm in good company, because a lot of pundits picked Kevin Harvick to win at Phoenix last Sunday. He's pulled off so many miracles in past Chase scenarios and was almost unbeatable at Phoenix. It just goes to show you racing is unpredictable.
That being said, I hesitate to predict anything about Sunday's championship round for the final race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup era at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Four racers — Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano — are vying for the title. So how do they stack up at the Florida 1.5 mile oval? On the basis of past performance, Edwards would have to get the nod. Edwards has won the final race in 2010 and 2008, has the best average finish (9.2) and the highest driver rating (109.4), as well as five top fives, two poles, and no DNFs. Busch won it last year on his way to the championship, but has only two top fives and two DNFs. He also has the worst average finish (21.1) and the third-highest driver rating (95.5) of the four contenders. Homestead is one of the few tracks where Johnson has never won, but he has two poles, four top fives, and is second-best in both average finish (14.1) and driver rating (96.8). On the down side, he has two DNFs. Logano is also winless at Homestead and has fewer than half as many starts there (7) as Johnson's 15. Logano's average finish in 17.7, driver rating is 83.5, and he has one top five, pole, and DNF.
Of course, winning at the final race isn't necessary to become champion under the current Chase format. The highest finisher among the four contenders will be crowned on Sunday, even if he finishes well down the overall order. But believe me, they 'll all be trying their best to win this race. However, unlike other sports the four title contenders will also have to deal with the 36 other drivers on the track, who each have their own winning aspirations and agenda.
Previously eliminated Chase drivers who have won at Homestead include Harvick (2014), Denny Hamlin (2013 and 2009), Tony Stewart (2011, 2000, and 1999), and Matt Kenseth (2007). Greg Biffle also won three times from 2004 to 2006.
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