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October 20, 2023

What to Watch: Riding the high line to a championship

4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

(⏰ Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET | 📺 NBC, NBC Sports App | 📻 MRN, SiriusXM)

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the 34th points-paying race of the 2023 Cup Series campaign.

Weekend schedule | TV schedule | Weather tracker | Homestead-Miami playoff race 101

📍 Location: Homestead, Florida
📐 Track length: 1.5 miles
🎟️ Buy tickets: Find weekend passes, seats for the race
💰 Cup Series race purse: $7,634,143
📏 Race distance: 267 laps | 400.5 miles
🔢 Stages: 80 | 165 | 267

📋 Starting lineup: Truex on pole at Homestead-Miami
🚗 Pit stall assignments:
See where drivers will pit
🏆 Defending winner: Kyle Larson, fall 2022

Key things to watch 🔑

Saturday’s sessions

After seven straight races without a top-15 finish, Martin Truex Jr. continues to build off his ninth-place result at Las Vegas as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver took pole position at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Truex’s pole is a milestone accomplishment for Toyota, scoring the manufacturer’s 500th pole award across the three national series. This is also Toyota’s seventh pole in eight playoff races in 2023. The No. 19 car led a Toyota 1-2-3 qualifying effort, with 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick set to roll off the grid in second and third respectively. Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson complete the top five. | Read the full practice, qualifying recap

Big storyline

With his post-race disqualification from Las Vegas getting rescinded, can Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 team refocus in pursuit of his first Championship 4 appearance?

Before the penalty got reversed, Blaney would have arrived at Homestead-Miami Speedway in a must-win mindset, sitting 56 points below the elimination line. However, the current 17-point deficit is way more manageable after his sixth-place finish at Las Vegas was restored. Between the checkered flag in Sin City and the 24 hours that followed, it must have been a whirlwind of emotions for Blaney and his entire No. 12 team.

Being in a better position now points-wise, Blaney will have to refocus and continue fighting hard for every point as the Team Penske driver tries to make the Championship 4 for the first time in his NASCAR Cup Series career. Looking at Blaney’s Homestead stats, he has seven finishes of 11th place or worse in eight career starts. His best finish here was third in 2020, including 70 laps led that day. If the No. 12 team wants to head into the Round of 8 elimination race at Martinsville Speedway next Sunday feeling like they have a fighting chance, Blaney will have to outperform most of his previous Homestead runs and rise to the occasion. He got off to a good start by qualifying inside the top 10. | NASCAR’s Elton Sawyer details the No. 12’s disqualification rescission

History tells us…

After the last seven Homestead-Miami races produced seven different winners, the eighth different winner could emerge on Sunday.

In the last several years, there has been quite a bit of parity in race winners at Homestead. Since Jimmie Johnson picked up his record-tying seventh Cup Series championship after winning the race in 2016, the 1.5-mile Florida track has not produced a repeat winner. After Johnson’s big win, Martin Truex Jr. (2017), Joey Logano (2018), Kyle Busch (2019), Denny Hamlin (2020), William Byron (2021) and Kyle Larson (2022) visited Homestead Victory Lane in the years afterward. When considering a driver who could become the eighth different winner, 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick immediately comes to mind, especially after the No. 45 Toyota qualified third on Saturday morning.

Before the drop of the green flag, everyone already knows the Toyota high rider will be up against the wall ripping the fence at some point searching for speed. Homestead is his style of track and could potentially be his best chance to make the Championship 4 with 23XI. While Reddick has not won at Homestead yet in the Cup Series, his two top fives in three career starts suggest he could be on the verge of breaking through and getting that maiden Homestead win like Larson did last year. While Reddick has only led three laps in three Homestead races, this year’s race may turn out differently as the 27-year-old continues to improve over time. | Preview Show: There’s no place like Homestead

He may not be the betting favorite to win, but watch out for…

Kevin Harvick.
A win by the 2014 Cup Series champion at the 4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1 race named in his honor would be a sentimental moment. With only a couple of weeks remaining until he hangs up the helmet, Harvick is still searching for a win in his final season. Homestead has traditionally been a great track for the Stewart-Haas Racing driver. In his last 15 starts at Homestead, Harvick earned 14 top-10 finishes, including 10 top fives.

His only win came here in 2014 when he picked up his only Cup Series title. On that special night, Harvick’s No. 4 car was sponsored by Budweiser, which makes a one-off return in a throwback paint scheme from his 2014 championship-winning season to honor the soon-to-be-retired champion. Harvick enters Homestead with 30-1 odds of winning the race. If Harvick wins on Sunday, it would be the perfect ending in what could potentially be his final NASCAR win. Harvick will have some work to do after qualifying outside of the top 20. | Watch Harvick’s 2014 championship-winning drive at Homestead on NASCAR Classics

Familiar favorites ⭐️

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.

– At-track photos: Sights and scenes from Homestead-Miami | Photos
– Bubble Watch: Reddick could spoil title favorites’ hopes | See the analysis
– Fantasy Fastlane: Tyler Reddick’s time to shine at Homestead | See the picks
– Paint Scheme Preview: See the schemes for Homestead-Miami | Pick a favorite
– Power Rankings: Will Tyler Reddick ride the high line into Championship 4? | Latest driver rankings
– Stacking Pennies:
Corey LaJoie talks about near misses and a playoff ticket punched after racing at Las Vegas. | Listen to the podcast

💎 NASCAR 75: Learn more about the history of the sport, from pioneers to current stars | Visit NASCAR 75 hub

Get in on the action 💰

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy and Fan Rewards.

– Fantasy Live: Participate in interactive gameplay from week to week | Choose your lineup
– Fan Rewards: New in 2023, get rewarded for your participation | Learn more
– NASCAR BetCenter: Don’t miss your chance to make picks each week | Visit the BetCenter
– Going the distance:
2023 Cup Series championship odds | See them here

🔮 Advance to Victory Lane: Racing Insights projects the finishing order