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 If you are a NASCAR fan and don’t believe this is how championships are suppose to be decided …well then I do believe that you may as well not even be a fan. Because two teams battling head-to-head for the top spot, completely shutting out all distractions, and racing at their peak. Occasionally fans are disappointed by a Super Bowl that is decided by a wide margin, a World Series going only four games, or a Cup championship that is decided before the final race, but the past two seasons in NASCAR have been stellar.

This season by far has been one that has not only thrilled us; but also taught us how far things can go in NASCAR. We know that It is too soon to know if the new points system was responsible for the anarchy, but the majority of races were determined by some external force: Tire strategy, fuel mileage, ill-timed cautions, or mistakes by the driver or in the pits turned the 2011 season upside down. For that reason, it comes as no surprise that the Chase also has been unpredictable. In the first seven Chase races, two were won by non-Chase contenders, which is the most since NASCAR expanded the field to 12 drivers in 2007. In addition, five drivers earned their first Cup win during the year and this was a season of unknowns.

The season-ending Ford 400 will once again decide the “Chase for the Sprint Cup” championship, as Carl Edwards leads Tony Stewart by a mere three points. That’s it, no season-ending heroics by Jimmie Johnson, just Edwards versus Stewart. As we know, both of these drivers are among the favorites here at SportsRantz but who else grabbed our attention:

The Other Favorite:

Stewart and Edwards grab the top spots as favorites this weekend for the reason of battling for the elusive championship and after today’s press conference; everyone can see the gloves are off and the ring is set to be Sunday at 3pm during the season finale.

So who else grabs our attention? Look no further than Kevin Harvick to be a favorite alongside the Championship Duo. For the past three years, Kevin Harvick has done everything but win at Homestead. With a second in 2008 and a pair of thirds in ’09 and ’10, he obviously knows how to get the setup dialed in during the 400-mile race and the only thing lacking has been that one break to catapult him to Victory Lane. So this makes him a prime candid to disturb  and disrupt some championship dreams and grab that win that has escaped him so many times.

Dark Horses

To think that this is the last time this year that we are going to be rolling the dice on our prized dark horses! So what the hell why not roll the dice big time and pick some drivers that are looking to get a win and more for their teams.

A.J. Allmendinger is the top dark horse here at SportsRantz. I know, it is shocking and I shook my head myself thinking that no this can’t be but yet he is just that!  In fact, this driver could become the sixth to win his first race of the season and dollar for dollar he probably is the best value in the game. The ‘Dinger has both recent momentum and track record on his side with a three-race streak of finishes 11th or better in his most recent attempts this season, as well as five top-11 results in his past seven attempts. At Homestead, he has never finished worse than 11th in a race he started and last year, he earned a solid fifth. Now, those stats really make you think that he pull out the win.

Our other dark horse has seen the most up and down roller coaster season out of any other driver. If you guessed Greg Biffle then you would be correct and deserve to pat yourself on the back and good job from us at SportsRantz. Roush Fenway Racing has won all but two of the eight events held on this track since it employed progressive banking and Biffle was responsible for three of those victories. In fact, he earned his in consecutive years from 2004 through ’06, but in the four events since then, he has added only one more top-10. Still, he hasn’t been terrible in that span with a worst result of 18th and an average of 13.8, which means he should be considered if he practices and qualifies well.

The Underdogs

Why not have a little “Busch whacker” fun? Yeah, at this point in the season it is all about salvaging the mess you made for yourselves if you are the Busch Brothers and well that’s exactly what they will try to do this weekend.

Kurt Busch has alternated finishes outside the top 35 with top-fives in every other season from 2003 through ’09 (with one-year off for bad behavior in 2005 when he was released from Roush before the end of the season). Last year was his only mediocre run when he crossed the finish line 18th and if the pattern holds, he is due to score another top-five. The team is capable but is it worth the gray hair to take the chance on Kurt?

Kyle Busch also should be avoided. The past two weeks may well have been the most depressing in this young driver’s life with NASCAR’s parking directive that kept him from racing at Texas in the Nationwide and Cup series and a pair of blown engines at Phoenix. He won’t find much relief at Homestead because this is his worst track in terms of average finishes. Who Knows though…Rowdy may prove everyone wrong once again and shock the world with ending the season with a bow at the starter’s stand grabbing the checkered flag.

Only one this is certain about this weekend’s race at Homestead-Miami, we are all in for a treat and this race will be one for the record books. From all of us at SportsRantz, enjoy the weekend filled with racing and may the best driver win!

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