Dustin Off the Final Race: Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
It will be a bitter-sweet feeling for everyone in the NASCAR community as this Sunday, the 2009 season will come to a close. All the miles, all the finishes, and all the stories during the 36-race season end at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
All the miles, all the laps, and all the checkered flags will conclude Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It has been a season of many highs and many lows. Some things shocked us while others were expected.
It will definitely be a season that will be remembered. Now, in this finale edition of "Dustin Off," we'll go through the drivers to watch out for in the Ford 400 and a look at the championship race.
The driver of the No. 99 was the bridesmaid at this race last season for a couple reasons. He won the race by using fuel strategy to make it to the end.
But, Johnson finished high enough to win his third title, a title that he was battling Edwards for.
This year has been a little different for Edwards as he has yet to win a race. He has been near the front and come close, but some incidents were outside his control.
This is a very good track for Roush-Fenway racing, as they have won the last four events. This is the last chance for Edwards to get a victory and salvage some good from the season. He will certainly be a factor come Sunday.
The other surprise from the Roush-Fenway stable is definitely Greg Biffle. As expected, he made the Chase, but has not made as much noise as expected.
Biffle has no wins this year, just like Edwards, but has run very consistent.
This is also his last chance to come away with a victory in the 2009 season. He came close at Michigan this past June, but fell half a lap short in gas.
Prior to Edwards winning last season, Biffle won three consecutive races at Homestead. He definitely will be up front.
Alright, so it has been nine years since "Smoke" has put his car in victory lane here, but that doesn't mean he won't be running well.
Stewart won the first two races at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 1999 and 2000, but there was a big difference in those races. The track had very little banking, as in six degrees in the corners, when Stewart won.
Since the track was reconfigured to have the progressive banking, Stewart has not found his way to victory lane.
However, tracks such as Atlanta and Charlotte have similar banking, and Stewart has won at both. Watch for Stewart's team to use a similar set up for this track as they would there.
This has been a dream season for the owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, and there's no better way to end the year than in victory lane.
It looks as though Busch is taking a page out of Rusty Wallace's playbook. When he was with Penske, after a victory Wallace would name the race car.
Two weeks ago, Busch went to victory lane at Texas, and afterwards named the car "Patriot" because he carried Operation Homefront on the hood. This weekend that same car will be on the track again.
Both tracks were similar in banking, so the car will already be set up to run well and maybe just a bit loose to get off the corners.
I would not be surprised if he makes his way to the front early, so watch for the No. 2 Miller Lite Doge.
No, that's not a typo, I'm actually putting Martin in this category for a reason. I have him as a sleeper because in order for him to even remotely have a chance to steal the championship, his weekend needs to be perfect.
He needs to win the race, lead the most laps, and somehow hope Jimmie Johnson has a problem. The likeliness of all that happening is slim to none, but he's going to try.
A win to finish out an incredible season would give this entire team a lot of momentum heading into 2010. Martin will be a contender for the title next year for sure.
A win would culminate an incredible return to full-time driving for Martin. He could sneak up and take some of the attention away from his teammate.
But, the attention will be on Johnson all weekend. Friday he came out and scorched the field in qualifying, putting his car on the pole. For a team that only needs to finish 25th or better, they came out fast and hard.
It will be a new chapter in NASCAR's history, as for the first time, a driver will have won four consecutive titles. That is unheard of in any sport. That's like seeing a team in the NFL win four straight Super Bowls, or a baseball team winning four World Series titles back to back.
It is history in itself, and one that everyone will be talking about for years to come. An incredible feat by an incredible driver.
Sunday culminates one of the most competitive seasons NASCAR has ever seen. The only question remaining is who will win the final race, and have bragging rights heading to Daytona in 2010. Coverage will be on ABC starting at 2:30 with NASCAR Countdown.
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