4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1 Race Preview & Picks

by | Last updated Oct 19, 2023 | nascar

Race: 4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1

Date: Sunday, October 22, 2023

Track: Homestead-Miami Speedway

Time: 2:30pm ET

Channel: NBC

What Did We Learn From Last Weekend?

Vegas was a crazy ride for both Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell, but Larson managed to outrace Bell when it mattered most. The margin of victory was 0.082 seconds…a photo finish! That gives Larson a guaranteed spot in the final 4 and a chance at the championship in Phoenix. For Larson, the win was truly a team effort, with his pit crew firmly working on a no-mistakes race and making sure he got out ahead of Bell when it mattered most. The last pit stop with 55 to go allowed Larson to jump ahead of Bell, a truly instrumental moment in how he obtained the win. For Larson, it was never a clear margin of victory, despite winning the first two stages. In his post-race interview, Larson admitted he knew Bell would come on strong in the closing laps, especially with lap cars hindering the speed. That never deterred him from holding his own, managing to take the win on the track where he won his first race with HMS back in 2021.

For Bell, it was definitely a disappointment. Although a runner-up finish is usually nothing to be frustrated with, it was clear Bell knew that he let his guarantee of being part of the championship race dwindle away. He wanted to lock it in, but he just couldn’t capitalize. Ultimately, he is sitting 3 points below the cutoff line. Kyle Busch came in just behind Bell for a respectable 3rd place finish at his home track. Busch was followed by Keselowski, who led 38 laps, for 4th place and Ross Chastain to round out the top 5 spots. Ryan Blaney came home 6th, followed by William Byron, Tyler Reddick, Martin Truex Jr., and Denny Hamlin for the top 10. Blaney was originally penalized by NASCAR and disqualified from his 6th place finish because of an issue with a front shock. Upon further review, NASCAR decided that he passed pre-race inspection and ended up giving him back the spot. That was a lucky break for Blaney, who is still 17 points below the cutoff. The disqualification would’ve put him 56 points below the cutoff and effectively 100% out of championship contention.

Where Are We Headed This Weekend?

Either way, these guys have a lot on their plates as they head into the next race for this round. There’s a lot at stake with just a handful of races remaining before we get to crown the 2023 champion. This weekend, we are headed to what used to be the final race for the championship. Homestead-Miami Speedway is another pretty cookie-cutter intermediate track. It’s also a place where we will see the guys that did well at Vegas run strong again. This 1.502-mile oval presents 18 to 20 degrees of progressive banking through the turns and 3 degrees on the straights. This is somewhat similar to Vegas, except it’s definitely not a tri-oval. Homestead was reconfigured in 2003 to give more banking, moving from progressive 6 degrees in the turns to what we have now at 18-20. This allows drivers to really maintain speed and even build speed coming out of the turns. Tires are something to pay attention to, as they contribute to track position, which is absolutely critical at these intermediate tracks. With lap traffic playing a role as the race progresses, it will be important for the teams to not make mistakes on pit road this week. Kyle Larson’s pit crew probably won him the race at Vegas with their stellar performances.

Odds and Value Picks

When it comes to picking a winner, you better believe that Larson and Bell and anyone in that top 5 are strong contenders once again. For Larson, we have to wonder if he’s willing to drive as hard being that he’s locked into the championship race at Phoenix. But then again, when has Larson ever not run hard? He races every weekend to win. Period. I don’t think that’ll change on Sunday. Here’s the funny thing. Larson is heading into the weekend as the driver with the best average finish over the last couple of races here. He has 2 top 5 finishes with one of those being a win. Other drivers with a recent win include Denny Hamlin and William Byron. Both of those guys are still strong contenders for the championship as well, with really any of them potentially winning this weekend. When we look at an all-race history at this track, Kevin Harvick actually takes the cake for the best average finish at 7.3 in 22 races. Truex Jr. and Elliott both average around 10th, but Truex has significantly more races here overall, leading me to believe that Elliott is going to have a bit of a stronger run. Although Byron has a win here, he has an average finish of 17th in 5 total races. While that doesn’t seem promising, we have to keep in mind that he’s really done a tremendous job over the last couple of years alone in developing with this team.

Let’s take a look at your potential winners heading into Homestead with odds available at Bovada:

  • Winner: Kyle Larson +275
  • Mid-Range Pick: Bubba Wallace +3000
  • Dark Horse: AJ Allmendinger +10000

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Allmendinger has 11 starts here over the years with an average finish of 16.5, but he has a third-place finish in his last start at this track. Allmendinger is slowly coming into his own with his team. After a win at the Roval, the team needs to work on these intermediates and continue to show that they’re not bound to the road courses for success. Homestead is one of the places where he tends to be pretty consistent. This is a good chance for him to really show that he can continue the momentum and build on the confidence of the team. Bubba is not someone I’m ready to put into the A list yet. He’s had a good year, with some strong runs. In fact, he’s put together several good weekends in a row. He’s fallen off just a bit, and Homestead isn’t necessarily his best track, but nothing was really his best track until this year. This will be a chance for him to rally the troops and practice for next year. This might be a place where his team can use some creative freedom to build on their program and look forward to next year so he has a more productive run in the playoffs. For Kyle Larson, it just doesn’t matter this weekend. He’s locked into the final 4, and he’s never one to give up just because he’s guaranteed anything. He’s running for a championship and will take any amount of points or wins he can get. Let’s see where he stands after his win at Vegas this past weekend:

  1. Kyle Larson
  2. William Byron
  3. Martin Truex Jr.
  4. Denny Hamlin
  5. Christopher Bell
  6. Tyler Reddick
  7. Ryan Blaney
  8. Chris Buescher

Buescher is some 20 points behind the cutoff line. He’s going to have to have something miraculous happen if he wants to be part of the final 4. Blaney is 17 points behind, so he’s also got a lot of work to do. Reddick is 16 points behind, but this is a good track for him. Honestly, he’s got a shot at the win. He will be up there in contention with Larson, Byron, and a few other top names. With just two races remaining, there is a lot at stake and these teams know it. This weekend will likely be a little more dicey than the last as these guys try just about anything to get the win and get locked into the championship race at Phoenix. Stay tuned as these guys hash it out at Homestead to try to win their way into the final race of the season!