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Tag:Homestead-Miami Speedway
Posted on: November 18, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 1:00 pm
 

Race preview: Homestead

By Pete Pistone



Ford 400 Preview


HOMESTEAD, Fla. - The Chase for the Sprint Cup championship comes to a crescendo Sunday with the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the closest points race in the history of the format.

Carl Edwards leads Tony Stewart by only three points and NASCAR has the "Game 7" moment it had hoped for when the season began.

Over the course of the nine races run so far in the title season each driver has given several examples of why they'll win the championship in 2011.

Edwards has been nearly a model of consistency since the first green flag of the season while Stewart started slow and turned up the heat once the playoffs started to ride a wave of momentum toward the top of the standings.

Both drivers are comfortable with the approach they've taken to put themselves in position to take the crown.

"We haven't won one. Tony has won four of these in the Chase. There's different approaches you can take to it," explained Edwards.

"To be clear, we've not gone out and said, Hey, we're not going to try to win this race, we're going to cruise along. We've done our very best. For us, that's one of the things I've most proud of. We've performed very well even on the days when things didn't stack up in our favor. We had some pretty big hills we had to climb. I feel whatever points system you've got, over time you're going to have close battles, you're going to have some that aren't so close. I think all of us are fortunate that it's close this year, it's exciting. It's fun to be a part of something like this."

Stewart concurs with his combatant about working under the system in place and has no problem with the fact he has more victories than Edwards but yet trails in the standings.

"How can their points system be good if the guy that's won four races is behind a guy that hasn't won any races,?" Stewart asked. The points system is good. It's easy to look at that and say that it's not good because of that fact. But what you got to understand is that, unlike other sports where it's two teams against each other, it's 43 teams, it's a 10-race Chase. You accumulate points for 10 races.

"The fact we've won four races doesn't mean we should be ahead of Carl. We did not do our job in some of the other races. That got us behind. Because of the new system, having the bonus points for winning, we were able to catch up and gain those points back. I think it's proven to be a pretty good system so far. You have two guys within three points of each other going into the last race. I don't know how you can say it's bad."

All of the warm-up has set the table for what could possibly be a winner take all scenario in Sunday's race. The strategy for both drivers is pretty simple, rather than having to figure out how many positions they'll need to finish ahead of the other to take home the title.

Take the checkered flag and no matter what the other does the Sprint Cup trophy is his.

"It's an awesome position to be in," said Stewart. "Three points really isn't a deficit at this point. We go out and win the race, it doesn't matter what they do on their side, we still control our own destiny.
We have absolutely got nothing to lose and everything to gain. That makes us a dangerous combination for the weekend."

Edwards also feels very good about his chances this weekend and is doing his best to block out as much pressure as possible.

"This is what I've prepared my whole racing life to do," said Edwards. "To win a Sprint Cup championship is the ultimate goal and I'm in the best position to accomplish that. I can't wait."

Let the games begin.



Homestead-Miami Speedway

Track Size: 1.5-mile

Race Length: 267 laps/400.5 miles

Banking/Corners: 18 - 20 degrees

Banking/Straights: 4 degrees

Frontstretch: 1,760 feet

Backstretch: 1,760 feet



Qualifying/Race Data

2010 pole winner: Kasey Kahne (176.904 mph, 30.525 seconds)

2010 race winner: Carl Edwards (126.585 mph, 11-21-10)

Track qualifying record: Jamie McMurray (181.111 mph, 29.816 seconds, 11-16-03)

Track race record: Tony Stewart (140.335 mph, 11-14-99)


Race Facts

Since the inception of the position-based points system in 1975, only three drivers have made up a points deficit in the season finale: Richard Petty in 1979 (made up two points on Darrell Waltrip), Alan Kulwicki in 1992 (made up 30 points on Davey Allison) and Jimmie Johnson in 2010 (made up 15 points on Denny Hamlin).

There have been 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Homestead, one per season since 1999.

Five drivers have competed in all 12 races: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Elliott Sadler and Tony Stewart.

David Green won the first pole, in 1999.

Tony Stewart won the inaugural race, in 1999.

There have been nine different pole winners. Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson lead all drivers, with two.

There have been eight different race winners, led by Greg Biffle, with three.

Jack Roush has won seven races, most among owners.

The race has been won from the pole twice: Bill Elliott (2001) and Kurt Busch (2002).

The race has been won from a top-10 starting position in nine of 12 races.

Denny Hamlin won in 2009 from the 38th starting position, the furthest back a race winner has started.

Three active drivers have averaged a top-10 finish: Carl Edwards (5.7), Kevin Harvick (7.9) and A.J. Allmendinger (8.7).


Who’s Hot at Homestead

Carl Edwards – Carries a three point lead in the standings into one of his best race tracks and in fact a place where the entire Roush Fenway Racing team and Ford has prospered in recent years. Edwards has won two of the last three races at Homestead and has been very strong at other mile-and-a-half tracks during the Chase providing tremendous confidence in his quest for a first career Sprint Cup championship.

Tony Stewart – He's a two-time Homestead winner but those came back on the track's old flat layout. But Stewart brings a boatload of momentum into the season finale and has carried a swagger throughout the Chase that shows no signs of slowing down in his run for a third title. Stewart's win at Texas should be beneficial to his effort on Sunday but more than anything he may have the advantage in the intangible department.

Kevin Harvick – Comes to Homestead this year not in the thick of the championship race as he was last year but in perfect position to pay the spoiler role. Harvick has performed exceptionally well at Homestead in recent outings including three straight finishes of second or third. He has compiled an average finish of 7.9 in ten career starts, third best on the active list.


Who’s Not

Juan Pablo Montoya – It's a home game for the Miami resident but Homestead hasn't been a happy home for Montoya in the NASCAR career. He has an average finish of 27.8 in five starts including a dismal 35th in last year's race.

Kyle Busch – Would like nothing better than a good finish this weekend to go into the off-season on a positive note and begin to put the tumultuous last several weeks in the rear view mirror. But will have his work cut out for him to do that at Homestead where he's struggled in the Sprint Cup Series. Busch has only top ten finish in six career starts that saw a 32nd place run end his 2010 campaign.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Homestead has vexed Earnhardt since he moved into the Sprint Cup Series. Eleven starts have generated a 24.2 average finish. Junior still has a shot at being the highest finishing Hendrick driver in the Cup Series but will have to turnaround his dismal performance record at HMS to do so.



Notebook

Groundbreaking for Homestead-Miami Dade Motorsports Complex – as the track was originally named – began Aug. 24, 1993. The first race was a NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Nov. 5, 1995.

The original configuration was a four-turn, rectangular oval based on Indianapolis Motor Speedway's layout.

The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Homestead was held on Nov. 14, 1999.

2002 was the first season of the Championship Weekend at Homestead, with all three of NASCAR’s national series holding their season finale at the same track.

There have been 167 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Florida.

165 drivers in NASCAR’s three national series have their home state recorded as Florida.

There have been 10 race winners from Florida in NASCAR’s three national series.

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Posted on: November 17, 2011 4:21 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 9:04 pm
 

Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart trade barbs and quips

By Pete Pistone

MIAMI -- If the Sprint Cup championship were decided by Thursday's Champion's Press Conference, Tony Stewart would have been the winner in a fourth-round knockout.

Stewart and Carl Edwards traded barbs and wisecracks during a spirited media session as a prelude to their battle for the series title in Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

While Edwards has a three-point lead over Stewart heading into the final race of the season, you'd never know it from Thursday's at time hilarious press gathering.


"We're not trying to overcome a big deficit," said a confident and laid back Stewart. "We're right there right behind him. For us, like I said, we can finish 43rd this weekend and not be any worse off than we are right now, so we don't have anything to lose. We can throw everything we got at it. If we make a mistake doing it, it doesn't cost anything. There's no penalty for us screwing up."

Not to be outdone, Edwards countered by saying he's also feeling confident about his chances Sunday and that he's doing a good job to keep the pressure at bay.

"I don't really have any nerves," he said. "We've been running well, earned our spot at the top of the standings. I'm excited to have this opportunity to go out and win this championship. We couldn't feel better about the racetrack. We feel really good about the race.

"It's pretty fun. I'm enjoying it. I'm just looking forward to going out there and racing the car."

Throughout this championship battle the two drivers have shown great restraint from getting involved in a war of words or mind games with one another. Mutual respect for one another has been the key message point delivered from both, including after their finishes of second and third last week in Phoenix to set up this week's three-point fight for the crown.

But things broke lose on Thursday much to the delight of both competitors as well as the press corps on hand to cover the event.

When Stewart was asked if "Boys Have at It" might play into deciding the outcome of Sunday's race if he and Edwards were battling for the win he didn't hesitate to answer.

“I’d wreck my mom to win a championship. I’d wreck your mom [the reporter who asked the question] to win a championship," he said. "I respect [Edwards] as a driver, but this isn’t about friendships this weekend. This is war. This is battle. This is for a national championship. It’s no-holds barred this weekend. I didn’t come this far to be one step away from it and let it slip away, so we’re going to go for it."

Edwards sat back while Stewart talked about his previous two titles and how that experience may help his cause in this year's quest for the championship. He finally paused and replied with this gem:

"That the funny thing. I’ve listened to you talk a lot today," Edwards said. "You’ve talked a lot about your past successes. That is very respectable. And truly, all joking aside, that will make it more fun if we’re able to beat you, it will make me more proud."

Undaunted, Stewart didn't hesitate to retaliate.

"It’s like Kid Rock said: 'It’s not cocky if you can back it up,'" he said. "I think we’ve been backing it up the last three weeks."

Hopefully the racing will be as entertaining as Thursday's warmup.

 
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Posted on: November 16, 2011 3:19 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 7:03 pm
 

Wins vs. consistency a delicate balance

By Pete Pistone


Image Detail
(Stewart has celebrated four times in victory lane during the Chase but does not lead the standings)


Brian France
hoped stock car racing could create more "Game 7" moments in the coming seasons when he made his annual state of the sport address to the media last season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The NASCAR CEO has to be pleased with what transpired over the course of the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup because that's exactly what will happen at Sunday's Ford 400.

Either Carl Edwards or Tony Stewart will leave South Florida with the Sprint Cup trophy, the duo separated by only three points in the closest battle heading into the last race of the year in Chase history. There's no other strategy in place for either driver to do anything but try to win the race and in turn the championship.

Throughout the first nine weeks of the playoffs both drivers have worked hard to get to the point they face Sunday in what boils down to a winner take all finale.

"That is cool, I couldn't ask for anything more," said Edwards after his second place finish in Phoenix last Sunday. "It is going to be fun. It is neat to go to Homestead and race it out. I am sure these guys are going to be good down there. They are fast at the mile-and-a-half tracks.

"I love that place. I am really pumped up for Homestead, I think it is going to be a good time."

Stewart followed Edwards across the finish line in third and believes there's no reason to think they won't run as closely together again in Homestead as they did in Phoenix.

"He's keeping me honest, I'm keeping him honest," Stewart said. "It's fun when we're first and second in the points and we're running first and second on the racetrack the last two weeks. It shows why we're both in this position.

"We just got to keep doing what we're doing. We got to keep the pressure on. Two weeks in a row we've led the most laps. Really proud of that. Proud of the pressure we're putting on him. A lot can happen in 400 miles next week. As far as I'm concerned, it's a dead heat going in there. We just got to do our job like we've been doing. To have three top three finishes in the last three weeks, pretty proud of that."

So as Edwards and Stewart sit 1-2 in the standings ready to fight it out for the title, the journey each driver took to get to their positions in the standings are much different.

Edwards has pretty much been been a model of consistency since the beginning of the season. With the exception of a short stretch in late summer when his performance was a bit off, not coincidentally in conjunction with Edwards' contract negotiations for a new deal, the Roush Fenway Racing driver has come home near the front of the field on a regular basis. Edwards has racked up 18 top five and 25 top 10 finishes over 35 races.

Conversely Stewart's run to title contention took a different route. The Stewart-Haas Racing owner/driver has only managed eight top five and 18 top 10 finishes coming into Homestead.

But Stewart has peaked at exactly the right time, kicking off the Chase with back-to-back wins at Chicago and New Hampshire and then rattling off two straight again with victories in Martinsville and Texas.

If Edwards comes out of Homestead without taking the checkered flag but maintaining his lead over Stewart for the title he'll go through the entire 10 race playoffs winless, yet will be crowned champion.

That would leave Stewart in the bridesmaid role despite winning nearly half of the races inside the Chase.

Is that the best scenario of NASCAR?

Probably not.

Truth be told it wouldn't be the first time it has happened, with Stewart owning a NEXTEL Cup despite sliding through the Chase in that championship season without a trip to Victory Lane.

Try as it might to find a balance between winning and consistency, NASCAR is in a tough position. With this year's switch to a more concise point distribution system as well as seeding the Chase by wins from the regular season and adding in two wild- card berths based on victories from the first 26 races of the campaign, the sanctioning body had hoped to put more of an emphasis on winning.

To an extent that's happened. The three-point advantage Edwards currently has over Stewart can be traced back to his bonus for winning back in the spring.

But when the spotlight is greatest and the playoff race begins, there's a good argument winning should have even more of a premium.

In any other sport, wins are what advances teams through the postseason. One loss and a year can be over in a flash, despite what was accomplished during the regular campaign.

But NASCAR is different than its stick and ball counterparts. Unlike football, baseball, basketball and hockey there are 43 teams, not two, on the track every week. Awarding points based on where a driver finishes each week makes sense over the long haul of a grinding 36-week schedule. Abandoning that format once the Chase begins would be wildly inconsistent with the overall concept NASCAR has had in place for roughly three decades.

However weighting wins with an additional point or two, say five as a bonus rather than just the three now in place, would give more incentive to crossing the finish line first, rather than using a conservative approach that some teams have had no problem putting into place in previous title runs.

The core of any sport is to win. NASCAR has moved much closer to finding that delicate balance between victories and consistency but one more nudge of the pendulum toward the winner's circle would make it even better.

 
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Posted on: November 15, 2011 2:45 pm
 

Wrestling legend Sgt. Slaughter at Homestead

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter will be the Grand Marshal for Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series championship race, the Ford 300, at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  Track President Matthew Becherer made the announcement. 

“I am really excited to start the Ford 300,” said Slaughter.  “Ricky, Elliott, Justin and Aric have made the 2011 Nationwide Series special and I can’t wait to see who is named champion once the checkered flag is waved and history is made.” 

Sgt. Slaughter is truly one of a kind. A former U.S. Marine, he earned his famous ring name during the service. Once he began his professional career, he would certainly solidify that name, intimidating adversaries and fans alike in his trademark drill sergeant attire. He remains one of the WWE’s most recognizable figures and comes to South Florida in advance of WrestleMania XXVIII, which will take place at Sun Life Stadium on April 1.  Following his retirement from full-time competition, he spent some time as WWE Commissioner and today serves as a WWE Ambassador.

“Sgt. Slaughter is a huge racing enthusiast,“ said Becherer.  “I am sure he’ll put his full effort into giving the ‘Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines,’ command and it’ll be a lot of fun for the fans Saturday night.” 

 
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com