Homestead Intangibles: Why the Chase Will Come Down to Qualifying and Pit Stops

Ken ArmerSenior Writer INovember 17, 2011

AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13:  Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads a line of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 13, 2011 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

As a society, we like the things we know, and shy away from the unknown. It's logical, it's safe, and when we stick to what we know, generally speaking, we don't make ourselves look stupid.

Problem is, for something important, say a Sprint Cup Chase champion, things get a little mucky. I'm generally convinced a magic 8-ball could provide as much insight as articles trying to predict outcomes.

I'm no Miss Cleo, or John Edwards. I can logically point out why Carl Edwards should win if history is any indication. David DeNenno did a great piece on why Stewart isn't to be counted out. We'll call it a wash and agree to disagree.

One thing worth agreement is two keys to winning at Homestead, whether you are a Chase contender or just wanting to end the season on a good note, are qualifying and pit stop management.

Qualifying is one of those things you can't predict. I'm not going to say whomever qualifies on the pole will win the race, or whomever qualifies better between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards will win the Chase, but it could happen.

Qualifying strong can give a driver a leg up on the competition, and for those in need of points, it could serve as a great start to a weekend earning the pole. I would expect someone who qualifies in the Top-10 to win at Homestead.

Pit stop management is the big key, while it's a little more predictable than trying to guess who will qualify where it can still be a guess. Be sure that Edwards and Stewart's team will monitor one another the entire race to ensure optimal track position.

For the Chasers, a wasted second in the pits could mean the difference between a Sprint Cup and second place. Consistent pit times, and solid tire and fuel management are key.

As far as any predictions on a winner? I wouldn't be surprised to see another win out of Kasey Kahne or Kevin Harvick. Would like to see Brad Keselowski have a solid run as well.