NASCAR playoffs at Homestead in Miami: Dixie Vodka 400 predictions, preview, how to watch, stream

Much like when the Dolphins were the NFL’s team in the early 1970s or when the Heat became the NBA’s preeminent superteam, Miami was once a city of NASCAR champions. From 2002 to 2019, Homestead-Miami Speedway was the final stop on the NASCAR calendar, and it served as the speedway where championships were decided, trophies were hoisted, and legacies were both created and affirmed.

After a calendar realignment sent the championship race to Phoenix, Homestead took a much less glamorous place on the calendar as an early spring race in 2020 and 2021. But now Homestead is once again part of the championship picture. The Cup Series makes its annual trip to South Beach this weekend for the Dixie Vodka 400, the second race in Round 8 of the NASCAR playoffs and a race that will help determine who will join Joey Logano in the 4 championship.

Homestead is always one of the most anticipated races of the season, and for very good reason. The pure 1.5-mile oval features a gradual 18-20 degree incline, and its worn surface emphasizes driver skill and tire management. This makes it possible to find speed and make overtakes in virtually any lane, which means a fun race for the drivers and an exciting one for the fans.

How to Watch the NASCAR Playoffs at Homestead

  • When: Sunday, October 23
  • Location: Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead, Florida.
  • Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
  • Television: NBC
  • Stream: fuboTV (try for free)

To monitor

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find the limit

With three races to go in the 2022 season, Homestead is the last remaining test for the Next Gen car at a track it has yet to race on. The last race at the track was in February 2021, which means it has been almost two full years since any type of Cup car has raced there.

The reacclimatization of the terrain at Homestead was aided by a recent Goodyear tire test, in which a new left-side tire compound was set after some drivers and teams took to the track. Getting the right tire compound for this track was essential, as Homestead’s abrasive surface leads to an extreme level of tire wear, which can easily put a driver who doesn’t manage their tires properly at the limit of control. .

Throughout the 2022 season, the Next Gen car has proven to be significantly less forgiving when a driver pulls to the side than the previous generation of car. It could make for an interesting race on Sunday, especially if a driver who pushes the limit of his grip is in the round of 16.

John Hunter Nemechek

In the shadow of one of NASCAR’s biggest stories right now, this weekend turned into a huge opportunity for John Hunter Nemechek. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series star and factory Toyota driver will race the No. 45 Toyota for 23XI Racing in place of Bubba Wallace, who was parked a race by NASCAR for intentionally destroying Kyle Larson last week in Las Vegas.

Nemechek is no stranger to the Cup. The second-generation driver raced all 2020 season for Front Row Motorsports, and he also got advanced work at Homestead driving a Toyota 23XI in the recent Goodyear tire test. But this weekend could be pivotal in determining the next steps in Nemechek’s career as he faces an uncertain outlook for 2023. Nemechek is driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series, whose specific plans are in limbo so that he goes to Chevrolet.

Homestead is already an important place for the Nemechek family, especially when it comes to John Hunter. His uncle, John Nemechek, died of injuries sustained in a Truck Series crash at this track in March 1997. John Hunter would be named after his uncle when he was born four months later, and his father Joe Nemechek would go on to win at Homestead three times in Xfinity Series competition – including in November 1997, six months after his younger brother’s fatal accident.

John Hunter’s best overall finish at Homestead came in the Truck Series, when he finished second in 2015 driving the #8 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet his uncle once drove. In two Cup starts at Homestead, Nemechek finished 23rd and 19th.

Christopher Bell

Another storyline stemming from Bubba Wallace’s suspension is Christopher Bell, who was an innocent victim of the crash between Wallace and Larson. Bell went from spectator to belting the wall, and he is now 23 points under the Championship cut line 4 after his DNF.

Bell has already had to battle adversity in the playoffs. His place even in the Round of 16 was earned when he prevailed at the Charlotte Roval with victory as the only way forward. Given that, Bell seemed to accept his situation rather than lament it when he spoke to reporters earlier this week.

“We’re in a much better place than we were after Texas or even Talladega in the round of 16,” Bell said. “I don’t think it’s over, but it’s definitely gotten a lot tougher, and it looks like we’re going to have to win. I feel a lot better about having the opportunity to win at Martinsville and Homestead than I did. did at Roval or Talladega.”

Homestead is very well suited to Bell’s driving style, and he’s had success here before, particularly in 2017 when he finished second to win his Truck Series championship. Bell’s first Cup start at Homestead saw him finish eighth while driving for Leavine Family Racing, but his final trip to Homestead didn’t go as hoped. He finished 20th here in 2021, a run that followed Bell’s first Cup victory.

Choose to win

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(Odds via Caesars Sportsbook)

Tyler Reddick (+700): There are a few ways to go fast and save time in Homestead, but by far the best way is to just put it on the very high line and rip through the wall. It’s an art that Tyler Reddick has mastered, as it has won him both of his Xfinity Championships and is reflected in his Cup results at Homestead – he finished fourth as a rookie in 2020 and then moved up to second in 2021 .

Reddick has only grown as a Cup driver since then, and he was arguably the class of the pack at the start of this year when the Cup Series visited a similar worn track at Fontana. If other drivers in the field don’t match Reddick and put him on the boards themselves, they could spend a long afternoon chasing Driver 8.

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