Fresh off a trip to Martinsville, the Cup Series has a quick turnaround before this weekend's race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Typically the site of the championship finale, Sunday's Dixie Vodka 400 will be the first spring race at the mile-and-a-half oval with progressive banking and aggressive tire wear, and the change in date could make things a little trickier for fantasy owners.
In the past, you could pretty much pencil in the Homestead winner being from the Championship 4, and all four title contenders have usually finished at the front of the field. However, there won't be a championship on the line this weekend, and the rest of the field won't be as quick to lay over for the four title hopefuls. You can still expect some familiar faces to battle for the win, but I think Sunday's race will be one of the more wide-open events at Homestead in recent memory.
Unfortunately, we won't have any practice to help identify the potential sleepers, leaving only past results at Homestead and the results from the other four races at mile-and-a-half ovals. The safe strategy is going to be to lean on the bigger names from bigger teams, and while NASCAR's revised schedule has caused me to burn through a lot of starts from this group, the upcoming race at Talladega and a doubleheader at Pocono will create an opportunity to save some starts.
1. Kevin Harvick
Harvick has always been strong at Homestead, but he has been on another level since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. He has finished fourth or better in all six starts at the track with SHR, leading 40-plus laps five times. Harvick is going to be a must-own in all fantasy formats this weekend.
2. Martin Truex Jr.
He has been locked in at Homestead the last few seasons, following a win in 2017 with back-to-back runner-up efforts. Truex has led at least 20 laps in all three of those races, leading more than 70 laps twice. I expect to have a ton of exposure to him in all formats.
3. Joey Logano
Logano has been solid at the mile-and-a-half ovals all year, and he boasts one of the best resumes at Homestead. He has finished sixth or better in each of his last five starts here, posting a 4.0 average finish and winning the 2018 race. Logano should be a safe bet to crack the Top 5 Sunday.
4. Chase Elliott
He has never led a lap at Homestead, but he has a 9.5 average finish in four starts at the track and has never finished outside the Top 15. He has also been one of the strongest performers all year, and he ranks fourth in points scored at the 1.5-mile ovals, leading at leas 26 laps in all four races.
5. Kyle Busch
Believe it or not, Busch used to struggle a bit at Homestead. He is now riding a streak of five straight finishes of sixth or better at the track, winning twice and leading 20-plus laps four times. Busch is still trying to recapture his 2019 form, but he should at least be a Top 5 contender Sunday.
6. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski hasn't led a lot of laps at Homestead, but he has piled up plenty of solid finishes at the track. He has finished seventh or better in five of his last seven starts, notching three Top 5s. Keselowski is probably a reach as a Group A option in the Driver Group Game, but he should get the job done in Fantasy Live.
7. Denny Hamlin
He is a two-time winner at Homestead, but consistency has been his real strong suit at the track. Hamlin only has one Top 5 in his last 10 starts here, but he only has one finish outside the Top 15 in that span. He may not be the best anchor for a DFS lineup, but you can pencil him in for a solid finish.
8. Jimmie Johnson
Johnson has been solid at Homestead in recent years, logging six Top 15s in his last seven starts. More importantly, he has been fast all year, especially at the mile-and-a-half ovals. If not for his disqualification in the Coca-Cola 600, he would have a 6.3 average finish. Johnson should be in the mix for a Top 10 Sunday.
9. Ryan Blaney
His overall record at Homestead leaves a lot to be desired, but Blaney did manage a career-best 11th-place finish at the track last year, and he has been stout at the 1.5-mile tracks in 2020. In fact, his three Top 5s and 181 points scored in those four races are both tops in the series.
10. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer has been an underrated option at Homestead throughout his career, and he has finished 12th or better in eight of his last 10 starts here, including three straight. Bowyer finished sixth in last year's race, and he is a strong bet to challenge for a Top 10 this weekend.
11. Erik Jones
After a couple of rough starts at Homestead to start his career, Jones logged a third-place finish at Homestead in last year's finale. He has had plenty of strong runs at tracks with high tire wear, so I wouldn't rule out a repeat performance. Jones is a high-upside Group B option in the Driver Group Game.
12. Alex Bowman
He had his best performance at Homestead in last year's finale when he notched a ninth-place finish. Bowman has had plenty of speed in 2020, and he has led the second-most laps in the four races at 1.5-mile tracks. He has also had issues finishing off those same races, resulting in an 18.8 average finish. Bowman will be a high-risk, high-reward option in all formats this weekend.
13. Kurt Busch
Homestead hasn't been his strongest track, but Busch does have four Top 15s in his last six starts here. On the flip side, he hasn't had a Top 5 here since 2009, and he has led just five total laps in the 10 races since. He could challenge for a Top 10 Sunday, but I wouldn't target him in most season-long contests.
14. Austin Dillon
Dillon has quietly excelled at Homestead, reeling off five straight Top 15 finishes. He has actually finished 11th or better in the last three races here, finishing a career-best eighth last season. This could be a great chance to squeeze a start out of him in the DGG.
15. Tyler Reddick
Reddick has impressed all year, and he has been rock solid at the mile-and-a-half ovals. He has finished 18th or better in all four races, posting a 14.0 average finish. The rookie will be my top Group C option in the DGG.
16. Ryan Newman
As is often the case with Newman, he usually finishes comfortable inside the Top 20 at Homestead. He has three straight Top 15s at the track, notching a seventh-place finish last year. I wouldn't bank on a Top 10 out of him Sunday, but Newman could extend his Top 15 streak.
17. William Byron
Byron won at Homestead to win the XFINITY Series title in 2017, but he has finished 24th and 39th in two Cup starts here. Despite those results, I wouldn't write off Byron completely. He has shown Top 10 speed all year, and I expect him to have a fast car again this weekend. Byron will be a high-risk, high-reward fantasy option, best suited for GPP contests.
18. Aric Almirola
He had a couple of solid runs at Homestead early in his career, but Almirola hasn't had a lot of luck at the track in recent years. He has finished outside the Top 15 in six of his last seven starts, finishing 22nd last year. I don't expect to target Almirola in many contests this weekend.
19. Matt DiBenedetto
DiBenedetto managed a career-best 20th-place finish at Homestead last season, and I think he could best that result this weekend. His move to Wood Brothers Racing this year has helped his performance, especially at the 1.5-mile tracks. He should have Top 15 potential and could be a Group B sleeper in the DGG.
20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Taking the plunge on Stenhouse is tough, but he could be an X-factor at the DFS sites this weekend. He has three straight Top 20s at Homestead, and he has been surprisingly strong at the 1.5-mile ovals in 2020. Stenhouse has cracked the Top 15 in three of the four races, notching a pair of Top 5s.
21. Matt Kenseth
He was on a heck of a run at Homestead prior to his retirement, finishing eighth or better in his last six starts. Most of those finishes came with Joe Gibbs Racing, but Kenseth finished sixth here in 2018 with Roush Fenway Racing. He hasn't been great since jumping in the No. 42, but I think Kenseth could manage a Top 20 finish Sunday. Consider making him one of your Group C options in the DGG.
22. Cole Custer
Custer hasn't shown the upside of Tyler Reddick or Christopher Bell, but he has been a steady performer at the mile-and-a-half tracks. He has finished 19th or better in all four races, posting a 17.0 average finish. Custer's Top 20 floor makes him a viable Group C option in the Driver Group Game.
23. Chris Buescher
He hasn't showed a ton of upside at Homestead, but Buescher has cracked the Top 20 in two of the last three races here, logging a career-best 16th-place finish last year. Buescher has been finishing in and around the Top 20 for most of the year, but NASCAR's current qualifying procedure limits his place differential upside, making him more of a GPP option at the DFS sites.
24. Bubba Wallace
It has been a mini-breakout year for Wallace. He has a 20.1 average finish overall, and he has finishes of 10th at Bristol and 11th at Martinsville in recent weeks. Wallace hasn't been as stout at the mile-and-a-half ovals, but a Top 20 finish isn’t out of the question. He should at least be on your radar in DFS contests.
25. Christopher Bell
Bell is coming off a rough outing at Martinsville, but he has shown a little more upside at the 1.5-mile tracks recently. He has finished 21st or better in the three races at mile-and-a-half ovals since the break, logging a Top 10 in the Coca-Cola 600. Bell could be worth a roll of the dice as a GPP option or as a Group C option in the DGG.
26. John Hunter Nemechek
The rookie has finished outside the Top 25 just once all season, compiling a 19.9 average finish overall. He has also shown more upside since NASCAR returned to action, finishing 16th or better in four of the seven races. Nemechek should at least be a serviceable Group C option in the DGG.
27. Ty Dillon
Dillon has never finished better than 22nd in five starts at Homesteads, compiling a 25.6 average finish at the track overall. With a Top 25 being the best-case scenario, Dillon will need to start outside the Top 30 before he has any fantasy appeal. Even then, he will be limited to formats that include place differential.
28. Ryan Preece
The intermediate ovals continue to be a tough spot for Preece, and he has finished 22nd or better in all four races at mile-and-a-half tracks in 2020. At best, he could be a low-ceiling punt play for DFS contests.
29. Michael McDowell
He is having his best start to a Cup season, posting a 20.3 average finish heading into Homestead. His record here leaves a lot to be desired, but based on his performance in 2020, a Top 25 isn't out of the question. McDowell could be a DFS punt play.
30. Corey LaJoie
LaJoie has finished outside the Top 30 in all three of his starts at Homestead, but he is showing a little more speed at the mile-and-a-half ovals in 2020, finishing 23rd or better in three of the four races. Depending on his starting spot, he could be a useful source of cap relief for DFS contests.