Written By Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Sharifah Zaqreeztrina
After a thrilling end in Las Vegas, the field will head to the other side of the country for the second race of the round of Eight in Homestead, Florida . Will any of the playoff drivers take the second pass to the round of Eight? Or will a non-playoff driver shock the field and pickup their first win of the season?
Las Vegas 400 Race Debrief
The race started off with Christopher Bell leading the way, but he was overtaken by Kyle Larson in lap three. For the rest of stage one, it was basically a constant battle between Larson and Bell for the lead, but Larson held on after a restart for the stage one win.
At the start of stage two, the Toyotas of Martin Truex Jr and Denny Hamlin led the way, however a crash by Carson Hocevar led to another caution. Brad Keselowski took the lead on the restart , but it was challenged by Larson. Keselowski held onto the lead for most of stage two, before Larson successfully caught up to Keselowski who was on older tyres with ten laps to go, and Larson secured the win for stage two.
Christopher Bell led the way for the first half of stage three, but Ty Gibbs brought out the caution after a huge wreck. Bell was overtaken by Keselowski and Larson on the pit cycle, with Larson maintaining the lead for the rest of the race. On the last laps, Bell caught up within three tenths of Larson. Larson was blocked by lap traffic on the final turn, which allowed Bell to overtake Larson, but fell short by less than half a tenth.
Larson takes the golden ticket to the round of 4, and will have more time to prepare for Phoenix as the field heads towards Miami.
The Homestead-Miami Speedway is located in Homestead, about an hour away from Miami. Homestead is a 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) long true oval, with a banking of around 18-20 degrees on each turn. The drivers will race around the track for 267 laps, with 80 laps each for stages one and two, and 107 laps for the final stage.
From 2002 to 2019, Homestead hosted the final race and the championship race for NASCAR, but was moved to February for 2021. In the following year, it was moved to being the second race of the round of 8, where it remains in the 2023 and 2024 calendar.
The race will be held on the 22nd of October, Sunday, at 14:30 ET (11:30 PT, 20:30 CEST). Weather forecast shows that there will be no signs of rain, but clear skies for the weekend.
The past couple of races in Homestead have been split evenly between Toyota and Chevrolet, with Chevrolet’s William Byron holding the 2021 victory. He has been a dominant force this season, winning six races, while being tied second for top five finishes as well. Byron will be looking to reel in a win in sunny Florida to secure a pass to the round of four, avoiding a risky situation in Martinsville which is one of the most unpredictable races on the calendar.
However, Toyota’s Martin Truex Jr will also be looking for a win. He won this race in 2017, which is also his championship year. He hasn’t won a race since New Hampshire, and after surviving a terrible round of 16, he has been quietly getting through the round of 12. Before Las Vegas, he hasn’t finished past 17th, which is quite worrying for the regular season champion. He had a promising start at Las Vegas, but a poor pit strategy call to stay out at the stage break between stages one and two, led to him falling behind but eventually crawled back to a 9th place finish.
Truex is currently 3rd in the playoff standings, with only a two point margin separating him from the cutline. If there is anywhere for the regular season champ to show out, it would be here in Miami. Watch out for number 19 this weekend, he might just surprise everyone by scoring a win.