NASCAR Cup Series News & Notes – Homestead-Miami Speedway

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season has started in historic fashion becoming just the third season in series history to with two first-time winners to win the first two races of the year; joining the series’ inaugural season 1949 and 1950. Now the 2021 season, has the opportunity to join the inaugural 1949 season as just the second season in series history to start the year with three consecutive first-time winners to win the first three races of the year. A feat that will be difficult, because this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race, the Dixie Vodka 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), will be hosted by Homestead-Miami Speedway, a track that has never had a Cup Series first-time winner.

The inaugural NASCAR Cup Series season holds the record for the most consecutive first-winners to start the season with five.

Next Race: Dixie Vodka 400

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date: Sunday, February 28

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV: FOX, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400.5 miles (267 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 267)

1949 NASCAR Cup Series Consecutive First-Time Winners

Series Date Track First-Time Winners Season Race No.
Cup Sunday, June 19, 1949 Charlotte (Old) Jim Roper 1949 1
Cup Sunday, July 10, 1949 Daytona B&R Red Byron 1949 2
Cup Sunday, August 7, 1949 Occoneechee Bob Flock 1949 3
Cup Sunday, September 11, 1949 Langhorne Curtis Turner 1949 4
Cup Sunday, September 18, 1949 Hamburg Jack White 1949 5

Three or more consecutive first-time winners has only happened three times in the NASCAR Cup Series. The first, was the five consecutive first-time winners in 1949. The other two times it occurred was in 1950.

1950 NASCAR Cup Series Consecutive First-Time Winners

Series Date Track First-Time Winners Season Race No.
Cup Tuesday, May 30, 1950 Canfield Bill Rexford 1950 5
Cup Sunday, June 18, 1950 Vernon Bill Blair 1950 6
Cup Sunday, June 25, 1950 Dayton Jimmy Florian 1950 7
Cup Monday, September 4, 1950 Darlington Johnny Mantz 1950 13
Cup Sunday, September 17, 1950 Langhorne Fonty Flock 1950 14
Cup Sunday, September 24, 1950 North Wilkesboro Leon Sales 1950 15

This season, Front Row Motorsport’s driver Michael McDowell grabbed his first-career win at Daytona International Speedway in the Daytona 500. He is the eighth different driver to win their first-career race in the Daytona 500. McDowell got the win in his 358th start, the second largest amount of starts before a first Cup win behind Michael Waltrip’s 463.

Then the following week at the DAYTONA Road Course, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell led just five laps en route to his first-career NASCAR Cup Series victory in just his second season at the premier level.

This weekend, 16 of the 38 drivers entered at Homestead-Miami Speedway are looking for their first NASCAR Cup Series career victory. Six former NASCAR Cup Series Homestead-Miami Speedway winners are entered this weekend, led by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin with three victories; followed by his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch (two wins) and Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. each with one win.

Joe Gibbs Racing riding high after Daytona Road Course / Bell can make history this week

It must have been a celebratory week at the Joe Gibbs Racing complex after a successful weekend of racing at the Daytona Road Course that saw not only Joe Gibbs’ grandson Ty Gibbs, son of Coy Gibbs, get his first NASCAR national series victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – becoming just the sixth driver to win in his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut, joining Dale Earnhardt (1982, Daytona), Joe Ruttman (1982, Dover), Ricky Rudd (1983, Dover), Terry Labonte (1985, Charlotte) and Kurt Busch (2006, Texas) – but also NASCAR Cup Series driver Christopher Bell collected his first-career victory in the Cup Series event on Sunday. And to boot, Bell’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Denny Hamlin claimed the NASCAR Cup Series points lead by 12 points over Team Penske’s Joey Logano in second place.

This weekend, the Joe Gibbs Racing camp will be looking to keep the winning ways going. Denny Hamlin is the defending NASCAR Cup Series Homestead-Miami Speedway winner, taking the checkered flag last season from the pole after leading a race-high 137 laps. It was his third victory at the South Florida track (2009, 2013, 2020), tying Greg Biffle (2004, 2005, 2006) and Tony Stewart (1999, 2000, 2011) for the series-most. It also gave Joe Gibbs Racing the series lead in wins by an organization at the 1.5-mile facility with eight victories – Tony Stewart (1999, 2000), Bobby Labonte (2003), Denny Hamlin (2009, 2013, 2020) and Kyle Busch (2015, 2019).

Hamlin’s teammates Kyle Busch (2015, 2019) and Martin Truex Jr. (2017) are also winners at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series and are looking for their first win of the 2021 season. Busch finished sixth in last season’s Homestead-Miami Speedway race and Martin Truex Jr. finished 12th.

Christopher Bell, who captured his first-career Cup Series win last weekend at the Daytona Road Course, is looking to become just the fourth driver in series history to follow-up his first career win with another victory, a feat not accomplished in the series since 1964. If Bell were to win this weekend, he would join Billy Wade (1964), NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett (1959) and Dick Linder (1950) as the only four drivers in series history to accomplish the feat and Bell would be the first to do it in the Modern Era (1972-Present). Wade holds the series record for the most consecutive wins following a driver’s first series career win with four consecutive victories. He grabbed his first Cup victory on July 10, 1964 at Old Bridge Stadium. Ned Jarrett won his first race at Myrtle Beach on August 1, 1959 and Dick Linder won his first race at Dayton on August 20, 1950.

Series Date Track Drivers Finish Season Race No.
Cup Friday, July 10, 1964 Old Bridge Stadium Billy Wade 1 1964 37
Cup Sunday, July 12, 1964 Bridgehampton Billy Wade 1 1964 38
Cup Wednesday, July 15, 1964 Islip Billy Wade 1 1964 39
Cup Sunday, July 19, 1964 Watkins Glen Billy Wade 1 1964 40
Series Date Track Drivers Finish Season Race No.
Cup Saturday, August 1, 1959 Myrtle Beach Ned Jarrett 1 1959 29
Cup Sunday, August 2, 1959 Southern States Ned Jarrett 1 1959 30
Series Date Track Drivers Finish Season Race No.
Cup Sunday, August 20, 1950 Dayton Dick Linder 1 1950 11
Cup Sunday, August 27, 1950 Hamburg Dick Linder 1 1950 12

Bell made his series track debut at Homestead-Miami Speedway last season; he started 38th and raced his way up to an eighth-place finish.

Two new names already listed on this season’s Playoff picture, who’s next?

While there still may be 24 more races left in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season to decide who will qualify for the Playoffs, two new names that will be making the postseason debuts this year – Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell – have already locked themselves in. Looking ahead to this weekend’s race, the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) there are 15 different drivers entered that have won at least one NASCAR national series race at the famous 1.5-mile South Florida track and all 15 are hoping to etch their name on the postseason list.

Two drivers looking for their first win this season, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, are the only two drivers entered this weekend that have won in all three NASCAR national series at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch has scored two wins (2015, 2019) in the NASCAR Cup Series, two in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2009, 2010) and three in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (2010, 2013, 2020). Harvick has collected one victory in each series (Cup 2014, Xfinity 2004, Truck 2009).  In last season’s Homestead Cup race, Busch finished posted his ninth career top-10 finishes (sixth) at the track and Harvick finished 26th, his first finish outside the top-10 at the 1.5-mile track since 2007 (19th).

Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Denny Hamlin is the early favorite for this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Chesterfield, Virginia native is tied with Greg Biffle and NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart for the series-most wins with three each. Plus, he is the defending winner of this race. He took last season’s checkered flag from the pole after leading a race-high 137 laps. In total, Hamlin has made 16 series starts at Homestead-Miami posting three wins, five top fives and 11 top 10s.

The next most recent winner in the NASCAR Cup Series at Homestead-Miami was Team Penske’s Joe Logano, who took home the series title after winning the 2018 season finale. Logano has made 12 starts at the South Florida track posting one win, four top fives and six top 10s. The 30-year-old, Logano, finished 27th in the Homestead-Miami race last season, his first finish outside the top-10 since 2014 (16th).

Like Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. won the 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with Furniture Row Racing and also collected a series title in the process. Truex finished 12th in last year’s Homestead-Miami race, breaking a streak of 1-2 finishes dating back to 2017 (2017 first-place; 2018 and 2019 runner-up finishes). In 16 starts at Homestead, Truex posted one win, six top fives and 10 top 10s.

The sixth active driver to win at Homestead-Miami Speedway is Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch, who won back in 2002 driving for Roush Fenway Racing. In total, Busch has made 20 series starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway putting up one win, four top fives and seven top 10s. He finished 17th in last season’s event.

Seven additional NASCAR Cup Series drivers entered this weekend have won at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series; including Brad Keselowski (two wins: 2011, 2013), Chase Briscoe (2020), Tyler Reddick (2019, 2018), Cole Custer (2017), Daniel Suarez (2016), Kyle Larson (2015) and Ryan Newman (2005). Briscoe is the only driver of the seven to win at Homestead in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2020) and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (2017).

Two additional NASCAR Cup Series drivers entered this weekend have won at Homestead-Miami Speedway solely in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – William Byron (2016) and Bubba Wallace (2014).

NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Race No. 2 of 36
Rank Driver Points Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Christopher Bell 82 2 1 0 5 In On Wins
2 Michael McDowell 75 2 1 0 5
3 Denny Hamlin 104 2 0 3 3 69
4 Joey Logano 92 2 0 0 0 57
5 Kevin Harvick 83 2 0 0 0 48
6 Chase Elliott 79 2 0 1 1 44
7 * Ryan Preece 74 2 0 0 0 39
8 Kurt Busch 65 2 0 0 0 30
9 Austin Dillon 64 2 0 0 0 29
10 Brad Keselowski 64 2 0 0 0 29
11 Cole Custer 54 2 0 0 0 19
12 Kyle Larson 53 2 0 0 0 18
13 Bubba Wallace 52 2 0 0 0 17
14 Martin Truex Jr. 47 2 0 0 0 12
15 Corey LaJoie 38 2 0 0 0 3
16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 38 2 0 0 0 3
17 Kyle Busch 35 2 0 0 0 -3
18 Chris Buescher 34 2 0 0 0 -4
19 Ryan Blaney 34 2 0 0 0 -4
20 Ross Chastain 33 2 0 0 0 -5

23XI Racing starting strong and so far, the best among the new Cup teams

NBA Legend Michael Jordan made it very clear he wanted to be successful in NASCAR in his pre-season interviews and the new team he started in conjunction with Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin, 23XI Racing, is starting off the season in the right direction.

Jordan and Hamlin tapped Mobile, Alabama’s Bubba Wallace to pilot the No. 23 Toyota this season and the 27-year-old is looking up for the challenge. Wallace kicked the season off finishing 17th after being involved in a multi-car last lap incident in the Daytona 500, but not before grabbing points in the first two stage of the race. He then followed it up with a 26th-place finish at the DAYTONA Road Course and now sits 13th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings 17 points ahead of the Playoff cutoff.  Which is the second-best start to a Cup season for Wallace following the first two races; he was 12th in points after the first two races last season.

Wallace is no slouch at Homestead-Miami Speedway either. While working his way up the NASCAR ranks, he collected a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at the 1.5-mile track in 2014. In the NASCAR Cup Series, he has made three starts at Homestead-Miami posting a best finish of 13th last season.

When you compare the No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota team to the two other new teams in the NASCAR Cup Series this season – No. 99 TrackHouse Racing Chevrolet driven by Daniel Suarez and the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford driven by B.J. McLeod – the 23XI Racing is so far out performing them. 23XI Racing is ranked eighth (41 points) in the NASCAR Cup Series owner point standings followed by Live Fast Motorsports in 23rd (14 points) and TrackHouse Racing in 33rd (four points).

Rookie Rundown: Alfredo pours on the sauce at the Daytona Road Course

With two races in the books, there is no question the NASCAR Cup Series 2021 Sunoco Rookie of the Year class is full of talent, despite only being two drivers – Front Row Motorsports Anthony Alfredo and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe.

Following a 22nd-place finish that earned him the Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award in last weekend’s event at the Daytona Road Course, Anthony Alfredo closed the points gap between himself and fellow rookie Chase Briscoe to three points. But Alfredo will have his work cut out for him this weekend if he wants to surpass Briscoe in the rookie standings this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Alfredo has just one NASCAR national series start at the 1.5-mile track in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2019; he started 24th but finished 32nd due to an engine failure.

Sunoco Rookie standings leader, Chase Briscoe, on the other hand has found success at Homestead-Miami Speedway winning at the track in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2020) and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (2017).

NASCAR Cup Series Etc.

Steve Letarte returns to the pit box for Spire Motorsports – This week Spire Motorsports announced several team members on the No. 7 car will not be participating in this weekend’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway due to COVID-19 protocols; including the crew chief Ryan Sparks. As a result, former NASCAR Cup Series crew chief turned NBC Sports NASCAR TV Analyst will return to the pit box this weekend and lead the No. 7 team with driver Corey LaJoie. Letarte served as crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series for nine full seasons at Hendrick Motorsports. During that time, Letarte led NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (10 wins) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (five wins) to a combined total of 15 victories in the series – none were at Homestead. LaJoie has made four series starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway posting an average finish of 31.2.

Homestead to host limited number of fans – NASCAR and Homestead-Miami Speedway announced back in December that the 1.5-mile venue’s February NASCAR weekend will play host to a reduced number of fans, and will also be pushed back one week later than originally scheduled. The decision to limit fans is due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and is in accordance with enhanced safety protocols and procedures to provide a safe environment for guests, NASCAR competitors, employees and the local community.

Now set for Feb. 27-28, the third weekend of the 2021 NASCAR season will be headlined by Homestead-Miami Speedway’s Dixie Vodka 400 NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 28 and a NASCAR Xfinity Series race set for Saturday, Feb. 27. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, originally scheduled for Friday, Feb. 19, has been realigned to the DAYTONA Road Course for the same date.

“The South Florida community and Homestead-Miami Speedway are always excited to welcome fans here from across the country,” said track President Al Garcia. “We pride ourselves on personal hospitality and incredible racing at our beautiful, colorful, one-of-a-kind facility. We will work with our fans to find the best opportunity to enjoy NASCAR racing at its finest, here at Homestead-Miami Speedway.”

 

The Crew’s Sarah Stiles to Perform Virtual National Anthem – As NASCAR fans around the globe continue to dive into Netflix’s new racing-themed comedy series, THE CREW, fans of the show will have an opportunity to see one of its lead actresses showcase her singing talent ahead of this Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Stiles, a multi-talented actress, musician, and two-time Tony Award nominee, can currently be seen starring as ‘Beth’ in THE CREW alongside Kevin James.

On television, Sarah also recurs as ‘Bonnie Barella’ on Showtime’s hit series BILLIONS and starred in EPIX’s critically acclaimed series GET SHORTY. Additional television and film credits include the Steven Soderbergh’s UNSANE, I’M DYING UP HERE, BLACKLIST, DIETLAND, as well as the animated STEVEN UNIVERSE for Cartoon Network and SUNNY DAY for Nickelodeon. Sarah lends her voice on the recording of Pasek and Paul’s JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH.

On stage, Sarah Stiles starred in the Broadway production of TOOTSIE as ‘Sandy Lester’. She earned Tony, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical for this role. She has also starred in various Broadway productions including her Tony nominated performance as Jessica in HAND TO GOD, ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREEVER, Kate/ Lucy AVENUE Q and THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNUM COUNTY SPELLING BEE.

In 2016, she penned her solo show SQUIRREL HEART which she performed to sold out audiences at Joe’s Pub at the Public in NYC. Her debut EP YOU CAN UKELELE WITH ME was released by Broadway Records in August 2020.

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