It’s been a profitable NASCAR season in terms of gambling and with it being the final race of 2019, we’re looking to end it with a win and a cherry on top.
Location: Homestead-Miami Speedway
Date & Time: Sunday, November 17th at 3pm (ET)
TV Channel: NBC, NBC Sports Network & Motor Racing Network
Race Sponsor: Ford EcoBoost
How Hamlin Got Here
After being just one year removed from a winless season in 2018, Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, won at ISM Speedway on Sunday, locking himself into the final round of the NASCAR playoffs at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In what has been a season for the books for the veteran, Hamlin found himself in a must-win race and after leading 143 of the 312 total laps, Hamlin further solidified himself as one of the top threats to win the 2019 NASCAR championship. The win marked his sixth of the season – an impressive feat considering in his 15-year career in the Monster Energy Cup Series, the 38-year-old has surpassed the five-win mark just once before – in 2010, when he won eight races.
In addition to Hamlin securing himself a spot in the “Round of Four”, two of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will also be competing for a championship trophy. While they may have played nice with one-another during the regular season, don’t expect them to be allies in the season finale.
The championship race format is simple:
- The race will consist of the normal amount of drivers, but only four will be eligible to take home the trophy.
- The highest finisher out of Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will then be crowned the champ.
- Example: If Kevin Harvick finishes 2nd and a driver who was not mentioned above was to win the race, Harvick would be the 2019 champion.
Co-Favorites To Win
Due to the fact that there is no clear-cut favorite for Sunday, it should make for an entertaining and evenly-matched race. Interestingly enough, the four drivers who are eligible to win the championship, are the co-favorites to win at Homestead – with odds of +325 a piece. It’s no secret why they are the favorites but for those of you who don’t know, in each of the last five races at Homestead, the individual race winner came from one of the championship-eligible drivers.
- 2014: Kevin Harvick
- 2015: Kyle Busch
- 2016: Jimmie Johnson
- 2017: Martin Truex Jr.
- 2018: Joey Logano
I wouldn’t be too surprised if this win-the-race, win-the-championship streak were to hold up in 2019, so for the EcoBoost 400, we’ll be picking a couple of the championship drivers but will also be throwing in a wild-card who we believe could outpace the likes of Harvick, Hamlin, Busch and Truex Jr.
No Stranger To The Big Stage
He won this race in 2017 and it’s very possible he wins it again. Since the start of that 2017 season (his championship season), Martin Truex Jr. has won a total of 19 races and out of those 19 races, 11 have come at tracks that are either 1.5 or 2 miles in length. He’s been strong at just about every track on the schedule but where he really seems to hit his stride is on the intermediate speedways, such as Homestead-Miami.
In his 14 races at the track, he has an average starting position of 12th and an average finish of 10.79. He’s got just one win at Homestead in the Cup Series but he’s got five top-5 finishes and eight top-10’s to go along with it.
The 39-year-old has seven wins under his belt in the 2019 season, which leads all of NASCAR and with a win on Sunday, Truex Jr. would ultimately tie his career-high win total (8) for a single season.
Aging Like Fine Wine
What is absolutely remarkable about Truex Jr’s career is the fact that even at 39 years of age, he continues to improve. In his first 13 seasons in the Monster Energy Cup Series, he had a combined seven wins and in this season alone, he has seven wins.
Martin Truex Jr.’s Win Totals:
2004-2015: 7 wins
2016-Present: 23 wins
With all of the success that Hamlin has endured this season, Truex Jr’s impressive year has seemed to go under the radar but he is somebody that can not be forgotten about when making your bets for this Sunday.
Is This The Year For Hamlin?
It’s kind of hard to believe, but out of the four drivers who are competing for the trophy, Hamlin is the only one who has yet to add a championship to his resume. With all of the success that he’s had throughout the year, it seems like destiny that Hamlin caps off the season with not only an EcoBoost 400 trophy, but his first championship trophy as well.
With an average finish of 10.57 at Homestead, it is easily one of Hamlin’s most consistent tracks on the circuit. In his 14 races at the 1.5-mile oval speedway, Hamlin has nine top-10’s, including two wins and two third-place finishes. He’s had momentum virtually all season long and coming off a win as recent as last week, Hamlin is a must-bet for me.
Could He End The Streak?
As I stated earlier, the last five NASCAR titles have been won by the driver who won the Ford EcoBoost 400 in that season. So far, we’ve picked two of the championship eligible drivers to win on Sunday but if we picked a third, that would seem too easy and it realistically wouldn’t pay out all that much.
Kyle Larson is a driver who I foresee eventually putting an end to this streak and it’s very possible it happens as soon as this year. While he has yet to see victory lane at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Larson has shown signs of speed throughout the past few years. He’s finished inside the top-15 in each of his six races at the track and had three consecutive top-5’s ranging from 2015-2017.
The high banking in the turns and multiple racing grooves fit the 27-year-old’s driving style to a “T” and after leading a total of 322 laps in his last three races at the track, he’s no stranger to being in front of the pack. For our sake, let’s hope he can finish there on Sunday.