Previewing the Ford 400
by Matt Taliaferro and Nathan Rush
Race: Ford 400
Track: Homestead-Miami Speedway
Location: Homestead, Fla.
When: Sunday, Nov. 20
TV: ESPN (3:00 p.m. EST)
Specs: 1.5-mile oval; Banking/Straightaways: 4°; Banking/Turns: Variable (18°-20°)
2010 Winner: Carl Edwards
2011 Race Length: 400.5 miles/267 laps
Track Qualifying Record: 181.111 mph (Jamie McMurray, 2003)
Race Record: 140.335 mph (Tony Stewart, 1999)
From the Spotter’s Stand
NASCAR takes its traveling road show to South Beach for the last stop on the Cup schedule. And home sweet Homestead is the only race where it’s possible to see two teams celebrate victory.
In 2010, Carl Edwards back-flipped and chilled with the crowd after winning his second straight race of the Chase and earning his second Homestead win in three years. Cousin Carl led 190 laps and gained plenty of positive momentum that has translated into a title run this season.
But the driver who did donuts after the race was the runner-up. Jimmie Johnson led just one lap, but it was enough to finish No. 1 in the standings — 39 points ahead of Denny Hamlin — and clinch a record fifth straight Cup title for Rick Hendrick’s top team.
Make no mistake, this race will be the “Tony and Carl Show,” as the two hit South Florida separated by just three points in the standings. This championship battle could go either way: Edwards gets marks for his performance since Homestead’s reconfiguration and Stewart has been running so well regardless of track that a win is possible on any given weekend.
Crew Chief’s Take
“Long straightaways transition into corners where speed must be maintained — at least partially — to set up a pass in the center (of the corner) off. A car that can pick up the throttle quickly off the corner is one that can pass.
“That track was such a disaster when it opened. They shaped it like Indy, only smaller, but didn’t realize that squared-off corners are just dangerous on a track that’s a mile and half, not two. So they rounded the corners, and then stage three was tapering the banking. It took a bunch of money and revamping, but they got it right.”
Looking at Checkers: Points leader Carl Edwards has two wins and six top 10s in seven starts at HMS.
Pretty Solid Pick: Tony Stewart is going to be on Carl’s bumper all race long. Or maybe in front of it.
Good Sleeper Pick: AJ Allmendinger has yet to win a Cup race, but that may change on Sunday. He’s never finished worse than 11th in Homestead.
Runs on Seven Cylinders: Kyle Busch has typically thrown in the towel by now. This year is probably no exception.
Insider Tip: This one’s for all the marbles. Your lineup needs to include either Edwards or Stewart.
Classic Moments at Homestead-Miami Speedway
The 2004 Ford 400 in Homestead marks the final race of NASCAR’s inaugural Chase for the Championship.
Kurt Busch enters the event 18 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson and 21 up over Jeff Gordon, but on lap 93 the wheels come off. Literally. Busch loses his right front wheel while running second to Greg Biffle, when the hub completely detaches from the car. Luckily, Busch has already ducked to the pit access road, although he nearly hits the pit road wall in the process.
Amazingly, Busch never loses a lap, and wins a game of points-leader leapfrog, finishing fifth while Johnson is second and Gordon third. Eight points separate Busch from Johnson, marking the tightest points finish in NASCAR history.