The Ford Ecoboost 400 will have another championship decided there and the track provides for great racing and multiple grooves. Keselowski, the Sprint Cup points leader by 20 over Johnson, has to finish 15th or better to secure his and team owner Roger Penske’s first Sprint Cup Championship.
Keselowski has the early edge on the five-time champion, qualifying third in his Miller Lite Dodge and moving to the front row after pole sitter (and 2013 teammate) Joey Logano was forced to a backup car due to a wreck during final practice caused by Chasers Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle.
Johnson starts 10th in the Lowe’s Home Improvement Chevrolet and will need to win to force Keselowski’s hand today. Johnson has never won at Homestead-Miami – his best finish being second in 2010, when he overtook Denny Hamlin in the final race to win his fifth consecutive championship.
Johnson’s went into last week’s event at Phoenix with a seven-point lead; however, a blown tire caused Johnson to hit the wall and extensive repairs, leading to a 32nd place finish. Keselowski, tied for the league lead in wins (five), needs to stay with the consistent trend he has shown since the summer to hold on for the championship.
The Ford’s for Richard Petty Motorsports and Roush/Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards have been fast in qualifying and in practice. On Ford Championship Weekend, it would be something for a Ford to win the final race of the season. RPM’s Marcos Ambrose (2nd) and Aric Almirola (5th), after being re-signed on Friday for 2013, put themselves in position to win early in the weekend.
Edwards, after battling until the final lap in last year’s race at Homestead and tying eventual champion Tony Stewart in points, has had a difficult 2012, which saw the former Homestead winner out of the Chase and without a win in nearly two years.
Fellow teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth have shown well in practice sessions and have should be on pace for the win today. An interesting race is between Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer. Two points for third position in points separate the two drivers. Kahne was the biggest beneficiary of the incident between teammate Jeff Gordon and Bowyer at Phoenix last week.
Gordon’s intentional wreck of Bowyer for past incidents cost the Kansas native and his Michael Waltrip Racing team a small chance of battling for the title today. Gordon starts 15th in the DuPont Chevrolet while Bowyer starts sixth in the 5-Hour Energy Toyota. Kahne starts 12th in the Farmers Insurance Chevrolet.
One spoiler for today’s race is Mark Martin. The driver of the Aaron’s Toyota for MWR has always been good at Homestead-Miami and would like to finish this season with a win. The elder statesman of the series has been fast all year and his addition along with Bowyer has brought MWR to the forefront.
The race is about to begin…enjoy the final event of 2012.