By Walker Polivka
The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs continue today with the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Read on below to see our prediction for who will win the race, as well as our top 10, dark horse, and driver to fade predictions.
Driver to Fade: Daniel Suarez- Suarez has had a career season this year, picking up his first career win, as well as earning 6 top 5’s and 12 top 10’s. However, Homestead-Miami has not been kind to him, as he has only had 2 top 15 finishes and has also had 3 finishes of 30th of worse in 5 career starts. Suarez struggled with speed in both Practice and Qualifying and we predict that his Homestead-Miami struggles will continue today as he finishes outside the top 15 yet again.
Dark Horse: John Hunter Nemechek- Making his first Cup Series start of the 2022 season filling in for a suspended Bubba Wallace, Nemechek showed a lot of pace yesterday, as he was the fastest in Practice, had excellent short run and long run speed, and Qualified 4th for today’s race. Nemechek has had a mixed career at Homestead-Miami, with a pair of top 10’s and 4 top 15 finishes in 5 Truck Series starts here, plus 1 top 20 finish in 2 career Cup starts here. Nemechek will have hopefully learned his lesson from yesterday’s Truck race about being too aggressive too soon in a race and try to keep his car off the wall today. A win isn’t out of the realm, but a top 10 finish is certainly within reach for Nemechek.
Top 10: Denny Hamlin- 2022 hasn’t been the prettiest of seasons for Hamlin, but he has put together a solid campaign, with 2 wins, 9 top 5’s, and 13 top 10 finishes. Homestead-Miami is a track that suits Denny well, as 3 of his 5 top 5 finishes have been wins, to go along with 11 top 10’s and 393 laps led in 17 career starts. Hamlin has had a lot of success riding the wall at other tracks, like Darlington for example, so this type of track will play to Denny’s strength as the day goes on. Hamlin had excellent speed in Practice yesterday, but his car seemingly got better as the run went on. A win isn’t out of the realm today, but a top 10 finish feels like a lock for Hamlin.
Winner: Tyler Reddick- Reddick has had an absolutely stellar season in 2022, with 3 wins, 10 top 5’s, and 15 top 10 finishes. Fast at seemingly every track on the schedule, Reddick has continued that trend this week at Homestead-Miami, finishing 3rd in Practice and Qualifying in 7th position for today’s race. Reddick had excellent pace throughout all of Practice, and like Hamlin, his car got better as the runs went on, pacing the field on 15, 20, 25, and 30 lap runs. Reddick has also been successful here in the past, winning 2 times in 4 starts in the Xfinity Series and finishing 4th and 2nd in his 2 Cup starts. There is no driver in the sport that is better at running the wall than Reddick is and that will pay off in a big way as Reddick will find himself in Victory Lane today!