Homestead-Miami NASCAR Cup Race Goes to William Byron

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Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead, FL — February 28, 2021

The NASCAR Cup Series spends its 3rd week in a row in Florida. However, this week’s race is at Homestead-Miami Speedway, 300 miles out of Daytona. The Dixie Vodka 400 caps the early season events in the Sunshine State. That is the forecast for today, sunshine with almost no chance of rain and a hot race track to compete on.

Today’s 400.5- mile race is scheduled for 267 laps around the 1.5-mile speedway. Stages are set for 80/80/107 laps. Denny Hamlin(11) was supposed to start on the pole, but he will have to start from the rear for unapproved adjustments. Alex Bowman(48), Corey LaJoie(7), and James Davison(15) will join him as a result of various penalties.

The first two races this year have featured 1st-time Cup winners. Michael McDowell(34) in the Daytona 500 and Christopher Bell(20) on the Daytona Road Course. It would be a huge upset for that to occur today in Homestead. Expect a veteran with significant experience on this track to pull out the victory.

The Start 

Joey Logano(22) and Bell lead the field to the green with the #22 Ford Mustang pulling away. Kevin Harvick(4) and Brad Keselowski(2) follow in a Blue Oval charge to the front.

The start at Homestead-Miami Speedway / NASCAR Photo

Keselowski moves past Harvick into the 2nd spot, reminiscent of their late-race battle in the Daytona 500. Brad takes over the lead on Lap 13.

Stage 1

NASCAR scheduled a competition caution for after lap 25, as no practice was allowed on the weekend. Everyone came to pit road for tires, fuel, and chassis adjustments. Keselowski exited 1st, followed by Kurt Busch(1), Logano, Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr.(19).

Chris Buescher joined the Fords at the front of the pack with 33 laps to go in Stage 1. Buescher took over the top spot on Lap 53 and began to stretch his advantage.

With 16 laps to go, Davison’s engine expired and the caution flag displayed. The leaders pitted for fresh tires to set up a sprint to the end of the Stage.

William Byron(24) was officially credited with leading Lap 69 as his pit stall was on the other side of the start/finish line from Buescher. The first time anything but a Ford was at the top of the leaderboard. Buescher was 1st off pit road, followed by Keselowski, Logano, Truex, and Bowman.

Racing resumed with 8-laps to go. Buescher and Keselowski went side-by-side around to Turn 4 until Brad pulled out front. With 2 laps to go Buescher was back out front and the scramble for Stage points was on.

Chris Buescher / NASCAR Photo

Buescher held on for the Stage win, only the 2nd of his career. Logano slipped to 7th. The green waved with 1 lap to go and 29 cars on the lead lap.

Stage 1 Results

Position Car Driver Behind Points
1 17 Chris Buescher* 10
2 2 Brad Keselowski* 1.541 9
3 19 Martin Truex Jr. 2.278 8
4 24 William Byron 2.897 7
5 48 Alex Bowman 3.586 6
6 5 Kyle Larson 4.378 5
7 22 Joey Logano* 5.532 4
8 9 Chase Elliott 5.836 3
9 1 Kurt Busch 6.274 2
10 3 Austin Dillon 7.251 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Stage 2

The race off pit road again went to Buescher, with Keselowski, Bowman, Chase Elliott(9) making his first appearance in the Top 5 today, and Logano in line. The choose line is in effect today so the grid may get scrambled depending on driver lane choice.

With Buescher starting on the low side, he was able to beat Keselowski back to the line. A big run from Elliott put him in front on the next lap. Buescher’s car seems to take a few laps to reach its top speed and he easily regained the lead then pulled away from Elliott as cars settled into single line racing.

Hamlin overcame his forced start at the rear of the pack to take a spot in the Top 10. Two big names normally near the front, Kyle Busch(18) and Harvick are mired back in traffic running mid-pack in 18th and 19th.

Green flag pit stops began just before the halfway point of Stage 2. With service complete, Truex held the lead with 30 laps to go.

Late Caution

With 7 laps to go in Stage 2, LaJoie blew his engine and brought out the 4th caution flag of the day. Again, setting up a sprint to the Stage finish beginning with pit stops for fresh tires.

Truex exits pit road first, Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Byron, and Buescher follow. Byron manages to sneak in for the Stage win, with Hamlin finishing in 2nd blocking his teammate Truex which allowed Kurt Busch to take 3rd.

Stage 2 Results

Position Car Driver Behind Points
1 24 William Byron 10
2 11 Denny Hamlin 0.140 9
3 1 Kurt Busch 0.281 8
4 19 Martin Truex Jr. 0.363 7
5 5 Kyle Larson 0.444 6
6 17 Chris Buescher* 0.490 5
7 4 Kevin Harvick* 0.513 4
8 12 Ryan Blaney* 0.679 3
9 48 Alex Bowman 0.785 2
10 2 Brad Keselowski* 0.978 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

The Final Stage

Most of the leaders stayed out, Truex chose to pit out of 4th place and returned to the track 18th. Two laps after the restart, Truex climbed to 5th with fresh tires on his race car.

On lap 199 Aric Almirola(10) and Ryan Blaney(12) got together in Turn 3. Almirola tried to complete a pass by sliding up in front of the #12 Ford Mustang. Blaney gave no ground and the pair come together. Neither driver lost control, but debris from the collision brought out the first caution for an accident during the race.

Hamlin was caught speeding on pit road, entering too fast. The penalty sends Hamlin to the rear of the field where he began the race. Kyle Larson(5) leads off pit road with Truex, Kurt Busch, Harvick, and Byron completing the Top 5.

The race restarts with 61 laps to go, fuel may be an issue near the end especially if the race goes to overtime as did the first two events of the year.

After running in the lead lap all day, Kurt Busch was forced to pit with a loose wheel. He lost a lap to the field, effectively taking him out of a chance at the victory.

Byron settled into the lead and put a gap between himself and the field. Logano and Keselowski pitted with 30 laps to go for fuel and fresh tires. However, no one else bit on that strategy. It will take a late caution to get the Team Penske Fords back into contention.

The Finish

With 15 laps to go, Byron had stretched the interval from 1st to 2nd to almost five seconds. Tyler Reddick(8) made a late run but could not catch Byron who took the checkered flag and the 268th win for Hendrick Motorsports.

William Byron celebrates his win at Homestead-Miami Speedway / NASCAR Photo

Byron was not a 1st-time winner, having taken the checkered flag in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway in August 2020. He is the 3rd different winner in 2021 and the playoff picture has some interesting names at the top of the standings. Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell finished 6th.

Next week the series stops at Las Vegas for a race in the desert outside Sin City.

Playoff Points Standings

Just like last year Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick lead the points standings. If the new winner every week trend continues the final half of the season should be very interesting as drivers may have to win to qualify and points go out the window.

Rank Driver Points Status
1 Michael McDowell* 106 In-Win
2 Christopher Bell 99 In-Win
3 William Byron 76 In-Win
4 Denny Hamlin 139 +74
5 Kevin Harvick* 119 +54
6 Joey Logano* 108 +43
7 Chase Elliott 105 +40
8 Kurt Busch 104 +39
9 Kyle Larson 97 +32
10 Martin Truex Jr. 96 +31
11 Brad Keselowski* 95 +30
12 Austin Dillon 90 +25
13 Ryan Preece 90 +25
14 Cole Custer* 68 +3
15 Chris Buescher* 67 +2
16 Bubba Wallace 67 +2
Playoff Cut Line
17 Alex Bowman 65 -2
18 Kyle Busch 62 -5
19 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.* 62 -5
20 Ryan Newman* 56 -11
21 Ross Chastain 53 -14
22 Daniel Suarez 47 -20
23 Tyler Reddick 46 -21
24 Ryan Blaney* 45 -22
25 Chase Briscoe* 42 -25

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Results of the 2021 Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Position Car Driver Behind Laps
1 24 William Byron 267
2 8 Tyler Reddick 2.777 267
3 19 Martin Truex Jr. 3.989 267
4 5 Kyle Larson 4.229 267
5 4 Kevin Harvick 7.508 267
6 34 Michael McDowell 8.242 267
7 6 Ryan Newman 13.039 267
8 1 Kurt Busch 14.975 267
9 48 Alex Bowman 16.929 267
10 18 Kyle Busch 18.143 267
11 11 Denny Hamlin 18.509 267
12 3 Austin Dillon 18.701 267
13 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 19.167 267
14 9 Chase Elliott 19.561 267
15 99 Daniel Suarez 19.815 267
16 2 Brad Keselowski 21.565 267
17 42 Ross Chastain 22.395 267
18 14 Chase Briscoe 22.444 267
19 17 Chris Buescher 24.961 267
20 20 Christopher Bell 25.540 267
21 37 Ryan Preece 25.988 267
22 23 Bubba Wallace 27.234 267
23 41 Cole Custer 28.396 267
24 38 Anthony Alfredo 29.969 267
25 22 Joey Logano 30.379 267
26 77 Justin Haley -1 266
27 43 Erik Jones -1 266
28 21 Matt DiBenedetto -1 266
29 12 Ryan Blaney -1 266
30 10 Aric Almirola -3 264
31 53 Garrett Smithley -4 263
32 51 Cody Ware -6 261
33 52 Josh Bilicki -8 259
34 78 BJ McLeod -9 258
35 0 Quin Houff -9 258
36 7 Corey LaJoie -116 151
37 15 James Davison -206 61
38 66 Timmy Hill -246 21