Ford 400

Basic Info 

Homestead is a funky place to end a season.

Most years, the Chase is all but settled. Not so in 2012. To add to the intrigue, past history is not a great predictor of future success.

The Homestead track you’ll see Sunday is the third version of this race track, which opened in 1995. Now, the banking is more like Michigan, which is compared to Chicago, which is compared to Kansas.

From a track perspective, if you see drivers get three-wide, hit the DVR. Cars can’t seem to handle three grooves as well here as at Michigan or Kansas. That said, drivers have said the relatively new asphalt does have ample grip for side-by-side racing with two cars.  Historically, there have been several long runs at the track.

This is a strange race for many reasons. For many, this race isn’t about winning, rather maintaining enough points to win a title, stay in contention for the NASCAR banquet or stay in the top 35 for next season. So even though the track has potential to host an exciting race, drivers may not have any interest in creating that excitement. Others may just try and stay the heck away from the two title contenders.

Still, there are drivers who haven’t won a race all year. Who’s to say one or more of these guys won’t go all out to win, if for no other reason but to avoid answering questions about why they didn’t win in 2012 during the 2013 NASCAR media tour.

That’s a lot to digest for Sunday. Here are some other random facts from the track’s website you can impress your friends with during ESPN’s coverage, which begins at 1:00 EST.
 

  • Banking varies from eighteen to twenty degrees in the corners to four degrees in the straightaways.
  • The frontstretch and backstretch are each 1,760 feet.
  • Tony Stewart won this race last year. He also has the best average finishing position of any active driver at Homestead.
  • Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin have the five highest average finishes.
  • Jimmie Johnson is tenth and has never won here.
  • Brad Keselowski has the 22nd best average finish.
  • Edwards, Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart are the only multiple winners at Homestead.
  • The track was built as a way to help the South Florida economy after Hurricane Andrew.
  • The grandstand capacity has doubled since the track opened, hosting up to 65,000 fans and their coolers.
  • I know 65,000 is a lot of people, but that’s still small compared to other tracks. Curious to see how many empty seats there might be.
  • Drivers will have a pretty view during the race. The track has 15 varieties of palm trees, with more than 1,000 on site.
  • The track’s water towers could fill 20,000 bathtubs. The track developers also created four lakes, one of which is stocked with peacock bass. Mmmmm, dinner.
  • The entire speedway weighs an estimated 10 billion pounds, which makes me feel better after eating a cheese fries with bacon earlier today.

 

Ford 400

Basic Info 

Track Specs
Track length: 1.5 miles
Banking: Corners — 18-20 degrees (variable); straights — 4 degrees
Frontstretch: 1,760 feet
Backstretch: 1,760 feet
Race length (Sprint Cup): 400 miles (267 laps)
Grandstand seating capacity: 65,000
Opened: 1995

Homestead is a funky track where history is not always a predictor of future success.

The Homestead track you’ll see Sunday is the third version of this race track, which opened in 1995. Now, the banking is more like Michigan, which is compared to Chicago, which is compared to Kansas. So Miami and Kansas have one thing in the world in common.

From a track perspective, if you see drivers get three-wide, hit the DVR. Cars can’t seem to handle it the way they can on similar tracks. That said, drivers have said the relatively new asphalt does have ample grip, which allows for plenty of side-by-side racing.

Historically, there have been several long runs at the track. Last season, tires almost worked as hard as the engines did, with several cars having blistered or cut tires.

That said, history is strange at Homestead. For many, this race isn’t about winning, rather maintaining enough points to win a title, stay in contention for the NASCAR banquet or stay in the top 35 for next season. So even though the track has potential to host an exciting race, drivers may not have any interest in creating that excitement.

Then there are drivers like Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Paul Menard and a host of others who haven’t won a race all year. There’s little, if anything, preventing them from going balls out in order to pick up a “W” now before having to answer questions about why they didn’t win a race last year during next year’s NASCAR media tour.

A final thought to consider: most teams have mailed in the season and are already working on new options for 2010. Some could strike early gold. Others could bring junk to the track.

So we have people protecting leads, going bonkers for a win and getting involved in what amounts to an exhibition race. I have no clue what’s going to happen either on Sunday.

Now for some fun facts to impress your friends Sunday:

  • I hope you’re sitting down, but Jimmie Johnson doesn’t have the best average finish at this track. In fact, Johnson has the 11th-best average finish.
  • Carl Edwards could be flipping out Sunday. He has the best average finish at Homestead.
  • Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, A.J. Allmendinger (I know) and Tony Stewart are spots two through five at this fine facility.
  • The track was built as a way to help the South Florida economy after Hurricane Andrew.
  • Clearly, the sport has grown in popularity. The grandstand capacity has doubled since the track opened, hosting up to 65,000 fans and their coolers.
  • Note to self: get a press pass for next year’s race. Not only is Florida warm in November, but the track has a new 18,000 square-foot media center with all sorts of cool swag.
  • Drivers will have a pretty view during the race. The track has 15 varieties of palm trees, with more than 1,000 on site.
  • The track’s water towers could fill 20,000 bathtubs. The track developers also created four lakes, one of which is stocked with peacock bass. Mmmmm, bass.
  • The entire speedway weighs an estimated 10 billion pounds, which makes me feel better after eating a burrito for lunch.