After kicking off the season with trips to a superspeedway and road course, there are probably plenty of Fantasy NASCAR owners that need to get their 2021 seasons back on track. Fortunately, Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway could be just what the doctor ordered.
The Dixie Vodka 400 will be the third race of the Cup Series season, but it will be at a 1.5-mile oval. Big names and the top teams tend to deliver strong results at the non-drafting, high-speed tracks, which is especially true for mile-and-a-half ovals like Homestead.
What does that mean for fantasy owners?
Well, it means that the drivers and teams that you expect to finish near the front do so at a higher rate than at some other track types. It also means that you should try to take full advantage and anchor your lineups with a few established, proven stars.
As the season goes on, we will have a better idea of how the overall pecking order of drivers and teams will look in 2021. In the meantime, I love playing it safe in the season-long contests and loading up on the high-end options, especially at a track like Homestead, where the top options tend to stand out anyway.
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Hamlin impressively won at Homestead last year, leading a race-high 137 laps and sweeping both stages on his way to a maximum 60 points. Starting from the pole this weekend, he has a shot at a repeat performance, and Hamlin should at least be battling in the top 5 all afternoon.
He came up just short of a win at Homestead last year, but a runner-up finish and 15 stage points are nothing to complain about. The defending champ has posted the best Central Speed in the first two races of this year, per Motorsports Analytics, and I expect him to be right back in the mix for the win Sunday.
Multiple incidents ruined his Homestead race last year, but he had finished fourth or better in his six previous starts here with Stewart-Haas Racing, leading 40+ laps five times. Rolling off from Row 2, Harvick should be able to hang in and around the top 5 all race long and approach 50 fantasy points.
While we can’t say with certainty that Larson will hit the ground running with Hendrick Motorsports, I’m willing to take my chances. Plus, Homestead is probably his best track, and he has never finished worse than third in a stage here. In fact, he has won three of the six stages he has run at Homestead. At worst, I’m expecting Larson to contend for a top-5 and provide double-digit stage points.
After cruising to wins in the XFINITY races at Homestead in 2018 and 2019, Reddick’s Cup debut at the track last year was nothing short of spectacular. He finished second in Stage 1 and third in Stage 2 on his way to a fourth-place finish, and Reddick’s 50 points scored trailed only Denny Hamlin, who won the race. He is not the typical big name you lean on in this contest, but his performance at Homestead speaks for itself.
Garage Driver – Christopher Bell
Not only should Bell have momentum on his side after his win at the Daytona Roval, but he will get to start third Sunday at a track where he finished eighth a year ago. By the way, Bell managed that top-10 finish despite starting outside the top 30 in a Leavine Family Racing car. Now that he is in a Joe Gibbs Racing piece, it is easy to be excited about his upside. I want Bell available in case he hangs up front all afternoon.
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Denny Hamlin (A)
I don’t mind Chase Elliott for this spot either, but Hamlin swept both stages and led the most laps on his way to the win at Homestead last year and was the most consistent driver at tracks with high tire wear last season. Plus, he starts from the pole, giving him the inside track to maximum stage points once again.
Kyle Larson (B)
Larson has flirted with multiple wins at Homestead, logging three top-5s in his last five starts here. Since NASCAR began awarding stage points, Larson has finished third or better in all six of his stages at the track, notching three stage wins. Now driving for Hendrick Motorsports, Larson should be no worse than a top-5 option Sunday.
Tyler Reddick (B)
Yes, he has to start back in 35th, but Reddick started 24th at Homestead last year and still finished third in Stage 1. He ended up earning 17 stage points and finishing fourth in the race, and his 50 points scored were tied for the second most. I don’t think there is another track on the schedule where Reddick is a likely top-5 contender and a legitimate threat for the win.
Bubba Wallace (C)
Wallace managed a top-15 at Homestead last year, and his offseason move to Toyota and 23XI Racing should only raise his ceiling. He starts 19th, and at the very least, I expect him to finish in the top-20.
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Kyle Busch ($11,800)
Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott are two frontrunners to consider, but I prefer to lean into Busch’s place differential upside. He starts 24th, but he has finished sixth or better in his last six Homestead starts, winning twice and posting a 3.3 average finish. Busch should cruise to 100+ fantasy points.
Kyle Larson ($11,300)
He runs the high line as well as any driver in the series, and Larson has three top-5s in his last five Homestead starts, leading 145 laps and sweeping both stages in 2017. Set to start 17th, Larson is positioned to contend for the win while delivering double-digit stage points and around 30 place differential points. If you are looking for a contrarian, William Byron from the 31st starting spot has plenty of upside.
Tyler Reddick ($9,600)
Reddick will be a chalk play, but we are talking about a guy who could gain 30+ spots and challenge for the win. He gained 20 spots and earned 17 stage points on his way to a fourth-place finish in his first Cup start here last season, and Reddick dominated the XFINITY races here in 2018 and 2019. He could finish as the No. 1 scorer Sunday.
Matt DiBenedetto ($8,800)
He was quietly one of the better midrange drivers at tracks with high tire wear last year, and DiBenedetto finished 14th with a differential of +9 at Homestead. He has to start way back in 37th Sunday, which means another top-15 will result in a triple-digit scoring effort.
Austin Dillon ($8,300)
Dillon was surprisingly consistent at the 1.5-mile ovals last year and his seventh-place run at Homestead with his fifth straight top-15 at the track. Starting 22nd, he has a chance to challenge for a top-10 and approach 100 fantasy points. Chase Briscoe and Ross Chastain are two potential pivots.
NASCAR guru Brian Polking has been committed to producing Fantasy NASCAR coverage for nearly a decade and written countless articles for his devoted audience who swear by his advice year after year.
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