The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Miami for the first time since the COVID-19 shutdown postponed its original scheduled date in March. Homestead-Miami Speedway will play host to Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Although fans will be prohibited from attending like other events held since NASCAR returned to action after the coronavirus outbreak, the 400.5-mile race will host up to 1,000 South Florida service members, while only a limited amount of essential personnel will be permitted on the track’s grounds. It will mark the eighth Cup Series race in NASCAR’s return and the 12th race overall this season.
Here‘s everything you need to know with helpful information for Sunday.
Homestead-Miami Speedway is a 1.5-mile oval that held its first NASCAR Cup Series event on November 14, 1999, won by Tony Stewart during his rookie NASCAR Cup Series season.
The turns feature 18-20 degrees of progressive banking, while the straightaways have three degrees of banking. Both the frontstretch and backstretch are 1,760 feet in length.
Sunday’s 267-lap race will be the 22nd race for NASCAR’s top division at the South Florida track.
Stage 1 is set to end at Lap 80, Stage 2 at Lap 160, and the final stage is slated to conclude on Lap 267.
Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 will be held without practice and qualifying as NASCAR tries to limit exposure for on-site personnel to control the spread of coronavirus. The lineup was determined by a random draw among groups in the team owner standings:
- Positions 1-12: Random draw from charter teams in those positions in owner points
- Positions 13-24: Random draw from charter teams in those positions in owner points
- Positions 25-36: Random draw from charter teams in those positions in owner points
- Positions 37-38: Open teams in order of owners points
Pit-stall selection was ordered based on finishing positions from the NASCAR Cup Series’ previous race — Wednesday night’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway — followed by new entries in order of points.
For more information about starting-lineup procedures for national-series races scheduled without qualifying, click here.
The 2020 NASCAR rules package for intermediate-sized tracks will be in effect with a tapered spacer used to set a target of 550 horsepower. The cars will use aero ducts in addition to other aerodynamic devices to increase downforce.
Heat, humidity and high wear: Since its return in mid-May, NASCAR has run at several high tire wear race tracks, and Homestead-Miami Speedway ranks right near the top of that list. Homestead has come to be known for being one of the most competitive race tracks on the circuit, with its progressive banking, multiple racing grooves and its abrasive surface are part of that. High tire wear puts an emphasis on tire management, with drivers who are easier on their tires early in a run suffering less tire fall-off and making up a lot of track position later in that run. That scenario creates a lot of “comers” and “goers” over the course of a full fuel run, all leading to exciting and entertaining racing for the fans.
“Over the past several seasons we have had some great races at Homestead,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear‘s director of racing. “It has also turned into one of our most high wear tracks, and that is something that both fans and drivers seem to like. For the drivers, it puts a lot of focus on being smooth and managing their tires. Over a long run, lap times will fall off over two seconds from the beginning to the end of the run, so drivers who are able to save their tires early in a run will benefit from that later on. One other nice thing about this tire setup is that these teams just ran it at Darlington a few weeks ago, and at Homestead last fall, so they should have a good notebook from which to work.”
The NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series will all run the same tire combination this weekend in South Florida.
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STATS TO KNOW
— The last four races at Homestead-Miami Speedway have been won by four different drivers — Kyle Busch (2019), Joey Logano (2018), Martin Truex Jr. (2017), Jimmie Johnson (2016).
— The race winner has started in the top-five positions in six of the last seven races.
— Joe Gibbs Racing has won three of the last seven Miami races, while the organization’s former affiliate Furniture Row Racing also won one of those seven races with Truex Jr.
— Kevin Harvick has 12 straight top 10s at Miami, including six straight top fives all coming with Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick is also the all-time leader at Miami in these categories: 11 top fives, 17 top 10s, 6.4 average finish. He also owns an average running position of 4.0 or better in six straight Miami races.
— Kyle Busch has recorded five consecutive finishes of sixth or better, including two wins, all coming with crew chief Adam Stevens. Busch is also the only repeat winner in the last 10 Miami races.
— Ryan Blaney finished second at Martinsville Speedway, but it’ll be a little more of a challenge at Homestead-Miami if he wants to replicate that result. The 1.5-mile track is one of only three places where Blaney has yet to score a top-10 finish, including Darlington Raceway and Richmond Raceway. His best finish at Miami is 11th in 2019.
Source: NASCAR statistics, Racing Insights
Tune in Sunday at at 3:30 p.m. ET to television coverage from Homestead-Miami Speedway on FOX and the FOX Sports App. For full radio coverage, listen to MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
RELATED: Ways to follow the races
For a more interactive experience, head over to NASCAR.com or the NASCAR app to check out an enhanced Race Center, live Lap-by-Lap coverage, the customizable live leaderboard with Scanner (which is FREE for both races), and the return of Drive (featuring in-car cameras).
2019 RACE WINNER
Kyle Busch, who has yet to win so far in 2020, took his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry to Victory Lane in last year’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to win the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series championship. Busch led 120 of the 267 total laps and finished with a 4.578-second margin of victory over Championship 4 contender and teammate Martin Truex Jr. Busch also won at Miami in 2015 for his first career title.
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ACTIVE HOMESTEAD-MIAMI WINNERS
Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin (two each); Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. (one each).