November 14, 2008
Experts' Picks: Ford 400
  My Pick: Jimmie Johnson
Why he'll win: You heard it here that Johnson will finish off his season in style, with a victory. He's gotten better on the 1.5-mile tracks all season, and it would be fitting if he ends 2008 in Victory Lane.
Keep an eye on: Carl Edwards -- Trailing Johnson by 141 points in the standings, Edwards will be as aggressive as anyone on the track on Sunday. He's been the top driver all season on the 1.5-milers.
Don't expect much from: Tony Stewart -- This is Stewart's last race at Joe Gibbs Racing, and it's been evident for weeks that he already has one eye looking toward 2009.
  My Pick: Carl Edwards
Why he'll win: As they should in the Ford 400, Fords always run well at Homestead-Miami, having won five of the last six races there. And nobody's been better in a Ford this year than Edwards, who gets my vote for Driver of the Year. It won't win him a championship, but it may take away the sting of missing the title.
Keep an eye on: Greg Biffle -- It's been a comeback year for the Biff, who's reasserted himself as a force to be reckoned with in the Cup garage. I'm expecting him to be running hard on Sunday, and his record at Homestead is quite good -- three wins in the last four years.
Don't expect much from: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -- Put simply, Junior doesn't like Miami. In eight starts at HMS, he's got no wins, no top-10 finishes and a dismal driver rating of 68.7. This has been a season of rebirth for Earnhardt, but this weekend ... oof.
  My Pick: Greg Biffle
Why he'll win: : Homestead + Greg Biffle = victory lane. The driver of the No. 16 Ford has won three of the last four season-ending races and even though he's mathematically out of the title hunt, he seems to thrive when he feels he has a point to prove.
Keep an eye on: Jimmie Johnson -- Though it will be completely contrary to his nature to simply ride out laps, the two-time defending champion needs only to cruise around South Florida at half speed, like all the other snow birds, to wrap up a third. At least he can't leave his turn signal on the whole race.
Don't expect much from: Anyone else hoping to provide drama here -- Carl Edwards, who is in second place, 141 points back, will do all he can to keep pressure on Johnson, but barring major catastrophe, this will be a four-hour wait for a coronation.
  My Pick: Kurt Busch
Why he'll win: A non-Chaser has won a Chase race during each of the past four years, and I don't see that streak coming to an end at Homestead. With the way Busch has run as of late, he's the primary candidate among guys 13th on back to get the job done. The second-place finisher at this race last year, Busch also took the checkers at Homestead back in 2003.
Keep an eye on: Matt Kenseth and A.J. Allmendinger -- Looking to end his winless drought at 36, Kenseth heads to the track where he's the defending champ. But just one week after punting A.J. Allmendinger at the finish line in an apparent payback move, will the 'Dinger continue the clash down in Miami?
Don't expect much from: The Championship Chase -- In order to have a chance at the title, Carl Edwards has to win -- something he's never done on this 1.5-mile oval. Add to that the fact Jimmie Johnson will do whatever it takes to stay out of harm's way, and his third straight title will never be in doubt.
  My Pick: Carl Edwards
Why he'll win: Edwards will break though to win a Cup race at Homestead for the first time in his career but it will be too little, as Jimmie Johnson will officially clinch his third Sprint Cup title. Roush Fenway drivers have excelled at this track in the past with Greg Biffle winning three straight, so the technology is there within the team, but it will be transferred to Edwards car. But, it won't matter in terms of the championship.
Keep an eye on: Jimmie Johnson -- He can virtually coast to the championship, needing only to finish 36th to win his third-straight title. But, the true racer that defines Jimmie Johnson is not content to coast, so he will be within range of the top-five by the end of the race.
Don't expect much from: Denny Hamlin -- Stick a fork in him -- he's been done for quite a while.
  My Pick: Carl Edwards
Why he'll win: Homestead-Miami is a 1.5-mile track and Edwards has four wins on them this season, including the last two in the Chase. He and crew chief Bob Osborne have developed the fastest car and Edwards has the star talent to drive it. Edwards doesn't have much hope of overcoming Jimmie Johnson's 141 point lead, but he'll be taking his Ford to the limit with the idea he can still become champion.
Keep an eye on: Greg Biffle -- He won three straight at Homestead-Miami from 2004 to 2006 and has had a strong Chase with two wins. Biffle has access to the same equipment and information as Roush Fenway teammate Carl Edwards and undoubtedly would enjoy closing out his best season since 2005 with a victory.
Don't expect much from: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -- Junior doesn't have a top-10 and has an average finish of 21.2 in eight starts at Homestead-Miami. Since the track was reconfigured from low banks to high banks in 2003, Earnhardt's best result is 19th, twice. He doesn't have a top-10 in the previous four races on 1.5-mile tracks in the Chase this year.

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