Saturday will mark the 33rd and final race of the 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, and the championship is Chris Buescher's to lose at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The 23-year-old star has been atop the standings for much of the season, and he enters the Ford EcoBoost 300 with an 18-point advantage over defending champion Chase Elliott. Ty Dillon and Regan Smith are lurking close behind in third and fourth place, respectively, which could make for an intriguing finale should Buescher falter.
In addition to the drive for a championship, several Sprint Cup regulars will be involved at Homestead, including Chase for the Sprint Cup finalist Kyle Busch.
With so much riding on the Ford EcoBoost 300, here is all the information you need to enjoy the race, including a rundown of the top contenders to triumph at Homestead.
Where: Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida
When: Saturday, Nov. 21, at 2:45 p.m. ET
Ford EcoBoost 300 Schedule
|NASCAR Xfinity Series Schedule at Homestead|
|Friday, Nov. 20||1:30 p.m.||Final Practice||NBCSN|
|Saturday, Nov. 21||11:15 a.m.||Qualifying||CNBC|
|Saturday, Nov. 21||2:45 p.m.||Ford EcoBoost 300||NBC|
NASCAR Xfinity Series Standings
|NASCAR Xfinity Series Standings Entering Homestead|
|Position||Driver||Car No.||Behind Leader||Wins|
|7||Darrell Wallace Jr.||6||-120||0|
Drivers to Watch
Buescher has held off some high-quality opponents for a large chunk of the season, and he is now just one solid finish away from winning his first major NASCAR points championship.
While the Texas native can't afford to rest on his laurels, he is in a good spot provided he avoids getting involved in any wrecks and doesn't have to deal with any type of unforeseen mechanical problem with his No. 60 machine.
A finish of 13th or better will clinch the title regardless of what the other drivers do, and provided none of Elliott, Dillon or Smith take the checkered flag, Buescher must only finish 18th.
Buescher wasn't thrilled with his performance last week at Phoenix since it left the door open slightly for the competition, but he feels fairly confident that he'll manage to close things out Saturday, according to Ford Racing:
In the grand scheme of things we need to go to Homestead and we need to have a good day and do what we did there last year – just run around and stay out of trouble, run fifth – that would be just fine. When you look at the averages and points gained versus our needed position to finish our window is getting bigger as we go through these last four races, so that makes me feel good as we go to Homestead. Even though they gained some points, honestly, unless something crazy happens at Homestead it's just not gonna be enough.
Buescher only has one career start at Homestead in the Xfinity Series, but he came through with a fifth-place result, which inspires confidence that he'll be able to keep his lead in the standings.
Winning the race would put a fitting exclamation point on a championship season, and while Buescher doesn't necessarily have to take the checkered flag, his short history at Homestead suggests he is among the top contenders to do so.
Busch won't factor into the championship equation during Saturday's Xfinity Series finale, but the odds are very much in his favor when it comes to taking the checkered flag.
The 30-year-old veteran is the winningest driver in the history of the Xfinity Series, and he is coming off a dominant performance last week at Phoenix that saw him lead 190 of 200 laps en route to victory. Busch has six wins in just 14 starts as part of NASCAR's No. 2 series this season, and lucky No. 7 may be right around the corner.
No driver in the Ford EcoBoost 300 has enjoyed more sustained success at Homestead in the Xfinity Series than Busch, as he has two wins and seven top-five finishes in eight starts to his credit.
In addition to that, Busch will certainly be motivated to perform well Saturday since he will race for a Sprint Cup championship the following day at Homestead.
His Xfinity Series victory last week at Phoenix translated to the Sprint Cup circuit, as he came through with a fourth-place result and clinched his spot in the Championship Round.
If Busch can pick up even one or two trends that could give him a slight advantage over the rest of the field Sunday, then running in the Ford EcoBoost 300 will undoubtedly be considered a wise and successful endeavor for the No. 54 team.
While much of the focus in Saturday's race will be on Buescher's championship run and Busch's potential dominance, there is certainly room for someone like Larson to emerge and steal a win.
Larson is still searching for his first career Sprint Cup victory despite coming close on a few occasions, but he does boast two Xfinity Series wins and finished eighth in the standings just two years ago.
The 23-year-old rising star doesn't have a win in 13 Xfinity Series starts this season; however, he does have eight top-10 finishes, and he has been impressive at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the past.
Larson has finished in the top five in both of his Xfinity Series starts at Homestead, and his average finish of 2.5 is better than anyone else in Saturday's field.
There is no question that Larson has had cars that were good enough to win on a couple of occasions this season, but things didn't break his way. With perhaps only Busch standing in his way, this is likely Larson's best—and certainly his last—chance to enter Victory Lane this season on the Xfinity Series circuit.
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