Homestead-Miami Speedway will be Playoff Central for NASCAR this weekend.
Playoff races are scheduled in all three national series at the south Florida track, which hosted the Cup season finale from 2002 to 2019.
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The second race in the Cup Series Round of 8 is scheduled Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC). The Xfinity Series playoff race is set for Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET (USA Network), and the next-to-last race of the Camping World Truck Series season is scheduled at 1 p.m. ET Saturday (FS1).
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The 1.5-mile track is a favorite of several Cup Series drivers and typically produces competitive racing.
Joey Logano enters the weekend breathing easily. He won last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to earn a spot in the Cup Championship Four at Phoenix Raceway Nov. 6. The remaining seven drivers in the Round of 8 will be wrestling for the other three spots at Homestead and, for those still looking, at Martinsville Speedway Oct. 30.
Is the 20th winner out there?
Cup drivers stand one win short of breaking a rather sturdy record. Nineteen different drivers have won races in five seasons: 1956, 1958, 1961, 2001 and this year.
With three races remaining, it seems unlikely that a 20th winner will arrive, but it’s also true that some significant names haven’t won this year.
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That list includes Ryan Blaney (a playoff driver), Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, Michael McDowell and AJ Allmendinger.
Three of those drivers might see season winning streaks end. Keselowski has won at least one race in 11 straight seasons, while Truex (seven) and Blaney (five) have shorter streaks.
It’s noteworthy that the past 10 races this season have been won by 10 different drivers, and the past seven races have been won by seven different organizations.
Will Ross be boss?
Although Ross Chastain hasn’t won a race since Talladega in April, a case can be made that he’s a favorite Sunday.
Chastain’s record on 1.5-mile tracks this season is excellent.
He has finished runnerup three times on 1.5-milers, has scored two stage wins and has led 383 laps, the most of all drivers on 1.5-mile tracks by 118 laps. He has an average finish of 6.4 on 1.5-mile tracks, the best by more than three positions, and his 1.5-mile track total of points earned is 79 more than the second-place driver (William Byron) in that category.
Chastain is second in the playoff standings entering the race and is plus-18 points to the cutline.
Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick fast at Homestead
Two non-playoff drivers — Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick — will be among the favorites Sunday at Homestead.
Busch, in the final three weeks of a successful run with Joe Gibbs Racing, is a two-time Homestead winner and has finished in the top 10 in the past seven races at the track. He has won 16 times on 1.5-mile tracks.
Harvick won at Homestead in 2014 and has an impressive overall record at the track with 12 top fives, 18 top 10s and an average finish of 7.3.
Thirty-six teams are entered for Sunday’s 400-mile Cup race. Among the non-regular drivers are AJ Allmendinger, Noah Gragson and Landon Cassill.
Homestead Cup entry list
Forty-one teams are on the entry list for Saturday’s Xfinity race. Included are drivers Julia Landauer and Nick Sanchez.
Homestead Xfinity entry list
The Camping World Truck Series entry list has 37 teams, including trucks for Ryan Preece and Parker Kligerman.
Homestead Truck entry list
This week’s schedule and forecast
(All times Eastern)
Friday, Oct. 21
Forecast: Partly cloudy. Slight chance of a shower. High of 81.
4 – 4:30 p.m. — Truck practice
4:30 – 5:30 p.m. — Truck qualifying
6:05 – 6:35 p.m. — Xfinity practice (USA Network)
6:35 – 7:30 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (USA Network)
Saturday, Oct. 22
Forecast: Mostly sunny. High of 83.
10:05 – 10:50 a.m. — Cup practice (NBC Sports App, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
10:50 – noon — Cup qualifying (NBC Sports App, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
1 p.m. — Truck race (134 laps, 201 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
4:30 p.m. — Xfinity race (200 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Sunday, Oct. 23
Forecast: Mostly sunny. High of 85.
2:30 p.m. — Cup race (267 laps, 400 miles; NBC, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)