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The Setup – Ford EcoBoost 400 Race Preview
By Tyler Miller

This week marks the final race of the 2019 NASCAR season. The Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead Miami Speedway will decide this year’s champion as the highest finisher between Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin will win it all. This is the last race of the season, NASCAR will take a 12 week break before we are back in Daytona for the 2020 running of the Daytona 500.

Race Distance: 267 laps (400 miles). Stage 1 ends on lap 80, Stage 2 ends on lap 160.
Lineup Lock 3:00 pm eastern Sunday
2018 winner: Joey Logano (started 5th)
2018 pole sitter: Denny Hamlin (finished 12th)
Past Winners: (starting position)
2017: Martin Truex Jr. (2nd)
2016: Jimmie Johnson (14th)
2015: Kyle Busch (3rd)
2014: Kevin Harvick (5th)

Phoenix Recap:
What went right?

We had a really strong showing at Phoenix. Not every driver written up in Victory Lane worked out but overall I am really happy with how things went down on Sunday. Denny Hamlin led the most laps (143), won the race, and scored the most points on Fan Duel. Martin Truex Jr. was ok, finishing 6th, 9th in Fan Duel scoring. Harvick was 6th in Fan Duel scoring, Logano fell back to finish 9th but led 93 laps and was good enough for 4th on Fan Duel. Ryan Blaney was a key part of what made my cash lineup work, finishing 3rd on the track and in Fan Duel scoring. Kurt Busch did about what I thought he would do, finishing 11th from an 8th place starting position, not great, but solid at his 9.5k salary. Jimmie Johnson worked out really well, improving his position 8 spots to finish 14th, 12 in Fan Duel Scoring. Matt DiBenedetto was also a key part of my cash lineup, finishing 13th and improving his starting position. Finally, John Hunter Nemechek did exactly what we needed him to do, minus bringing out the final caution. Nemechek started 26th, was running 24th before hitting the wall at the end of the race and finishing 27th. His 3k salary opened things up in cash games and things worked out well.
My cash lineup ended up being Blaney, Hamlin, DiBenedetto, Nemechek, and Truex, scoring 332.3 and cashed in every cash game and single entry tournament I entered. I also played a single entry quick pick tournament where I played Hamlin, Blaney, DiBenedetto, Bowyer, and Nemechek and finished 3rd. winning $12 on a $1 entry.

What went wrong?
Before John Hunter Nemechek brought out the final caution of the race I was in position to win the quick pick tournament and do substantially better in my single entry tournaments with my cash lineup. Truex had been running 4th and Nemechek was 24th. The way things ended up Truex finished 6th and Nemechek finished 27th which slightly reduced my winnings.

Obviously I faded Kyle Busch which was a mistake. Switching from Truex to Kyle Busch would have improved my cash lineup by 12.5 to 344.8. That score would have paid out marginally better in single entry contests, but for the purpose of cash games there was really no difference. JJ Yeley or Ross Chastain would have been better value plays than John Hunter Nemechek. I don’t think there is ever a situation where I would feel comfortable playing either of those drivers in cash so I’m not worried about that.

What to watch for in practice/qualifying:
Lineup Build
All four championship contenders are equally priced at $14,000 on Fan Duel (they are staggered like usual on DK). Pricing them at 14k allows you to play three of the four contenders if you want to, though playing two of them would allow you to reduce risk by playing three mid-tier drivers instead of trying to pick one at minimum price. Choosing the right lineup build will be key this weekend.

So, Which One? Deciding on which championship contenders to play is also going to be key. It will take a lot for me to move off of Truex, as I think he has the most complete team. If Harvick or Hamlin practice well, meaning if they are at the top of the board in consecutive lap categories, that will likely be the direction I go. Obviously another factor will be starting position. If any of the championship four qualify from 15-25th they will likely turn into must starts no matter which driver it is. We will likely see split strategies in qualifying between drivers who trim out cars for a single lap and drivers who build down force into their car to race well, sacrificing qualifying speed. Luckily we have plenty of data from earlier races this year that we can lean on, though NASCAR has never raced this package at this particular race track.

What Vegas thinks (via Westgate):
Keselowski, Logano, and Larson are the only non-championship four drivers to make it inside the 20-1 threshold. The championship four are all 13-4. If I were to rank the championship four I would rank Truex as the favorite, followed by Hamlin, Harvick, and Kyle Busch.
Kyle Busch 13-4
Denny Hamlin 13-4
Kevin Harvick 13-4
Martin Truex Jr 13-4
Kyle Larson 8-1
Joey Logano 14-1
Brad Keselowski 20-1

Driver Ratings at Homestead:
1. Kyle Larson 108.7
2. Kevin Harvick 108.2
3. Martin Truex Jr. 105.5
4. Kyle Busch 99.8
5. Denny Hamlin 96.7
6. Chase Elliott 95.1
7. Jimmie Johnson 94.0
8. Joey Logano 93.8
9. Brad Keselowski 91.0
10. Ryan Newman 85.3
11. Clint Bowyer 84.9
12. Austin Dillon 80.9
13. Kurt Busch 79.0
14. Jamie McMurray 77.5
15. Aric Almirola 73.1

Average Running Position at Homestead:
1. Kevin Harvick 8.162
2. Martin Truex Jr. 8.712
3. Kyle Larson 8.958
4. Chase Elliott 9.768
5. Denny Hamlin 12.043
6. Joey Logano 12.171
7. Kyle Busch 12.607
8. Brad Keselowski 12.652
9. Jimmie Johnson 13.267
10. Ryan Newman 13.368
11. Austin Dillon 14.765
12. Clint Bowyer 14.958
13. Jamie McMurray 17.337
14. Erik Jones 17.433
15. Kurt Busch 18.620

Laps Led
1. Kyle Busch 343 (9.2% of laps run)
2. Kyle Larson 325 (20.3)
3. Kevin Harvick 315 (8.4)
4. Denny Hamlin 254 (6.8)
5. Martin Truex Jr. 209 (6.0)
6. Joey Logano 158 (5.9)
7. Brad Keselowski 107 (3.6)

2018 Top 10
1. Joey Logano
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Kyle Busch
5. Brad Keselowski
6. Matt Kenseth
7. Chase Elliott
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Aric Almirola
10. Kurt Busch

2017 Top 10
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Kyle Busch
3. Kyle Larson
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Chase Elliott
6. Joey Logano
7. Brad Keselowski
8. Matt Kenseth
9. Denny Hamlin
10. Ryan Newman

2016 Top 10
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kyle Larson
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Joey Logano
5. Jamie McMurray
6. Kyle Busch
7. Matt Kenseth
8. A.J. Allmendinger
9. Denny Hamlin
10. Michael McDowell

Stay tuned for updated content following qualifying on Saturday.

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