Cup Teams Take On Homestead For Race Three

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

It’s the third week of the 2021 NASCAR season and it is the third week in a row in the state of Florida. Considering the way things have gone so far, does anyone out there think we could have a third first time winner in this, the third race of the season? Well, from this fan’s view, I actually would be surprised if that happened since this is kind of return to a normal track that so many previous winners can win at.

Okay, so what do I mean by “kind of a return to a normal track?” Well, I’m just thinking about what I have heard several say during this last week. This is a track that is normal in the sense it is one of the mile and a half tracks that many races of the previous seasons have been made up of. There are more than a few previous winners that can and have won at this track or others and I don’t really see why they wouldn’t be the obvious ones to choose from.

Since this is NASCAR Cup and this has been a completely unexpected start to the 2021 season as far as winners go, I may have to backtrack on that statement. I have heard it said over and over again that the Homestead track drives much like a dirt track. If that is true, it would only follow that those with strong performances at dirt tracks in their background may have a good possibility of winning at Homestead. Unfortunately for the younger and newer drivers in the field, some of the Cup veterans have a lot of experience running and winning on dirt. That being said, I don’t think there will be a third, first time, winner in this race but I can’t rule it out.

Taking a quick look back at last week’s road course race at Daytona says having the best car, leading the most laps and pretty much passing cars at will, doesn’t guarantee a win. Chase Elliott proved that beyond a doubt. He had all of the above and yet he still finished twenty first. It was that last caution that got him into trouble and then, a bad decision or two, and he was done. It did turn out good for Christopher Bell though. He drove past Joey Logano and took his first victory in Cup in only his second start with Joe Gibbs Racing. Once again, the old adage proved true. It’s not how you start and it’s not how you run all race long, it’s how you finish.

So… returning to racing at Homestead in February. There is something to be said for having all three of the first race weekends in Florida. For one, it means they don’t have to adapt to any drastic differences in temperature or climate. Other than that, Homestead is a challenging track for all and a track that normally mandates running up near the fence, just like in dirt track racing. That’s probably why so many think the drivers that have a lot of dirt track experience will have an advantage.

Of course, this is the year 2021 and this fan wonders if anything can even be a return to normal. We’re still kinda in the pandemic mode. There’s no practice and no qualifying and a largely reduced number of fan’s in the stands and the lineup is done by the metrics. There isn’t really anything this fan likes about lining up according to the way you finish in previous races, but it is the way it is and the way it will be for most of the season.
I know we all got used to it last season, so it is no big deal but, it really isn’t the way things should be. I can’t say I miss the practice sessions but I do miss the qualifying. (Well… at least a little.) Qualifying was part of the competition for race day. That was where someone could make up for not-so-great previous performances and give themselves an advantage to do better in a race and possibly make up some points. Sure, I know qualifying has very little to do with performance on race day but, having a good pit stall can be a big plus when it comes down to it.

Just take a look at the race lineup for Sunday afternoon. Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano will start on the front row (if they pass inspection with no penalties) and everyone else starts behind them. Denny Hamlin is one of the favorites to win and, with his pit location because of the metrics and because he is a multi-time winner at Homestead, he will definitely have an advantage over others.

Kyle Larson is the choice of many to win this weekend and, he also, is a multi-time winner at this track. Because he has not finished as well as Hamlin, Logano and a host of others, he will start seventeenth. For Larson, that may or may not be a setback but, it is a disadvantage to those ahead of him. We all know he is capable to drive up to the front but, the question remains, will he?

Okay, so there is lot that could be said looking ahead to Sunday afternoon, but there really is no reason to go into a bunch of possibilities. Considering the first two races and how they finished, will this one be a return to a semblance of normalcy or will it be different, kinda like the year has started out already?

From this fan’s view, I know which drivers I would rather see win and those I would prefer didn’t. What about you? Do you think it will be one of the young guns with a lot of dirt track experience looking to win their first race in Cup or do you think it will be one of the veterans with experience and proven performance at Homestead? Or, just maybe, it will be someone totally unexpected…?

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© February 27, 2021 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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