Don’t overlook the non-Chasers

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 14:   Crew chief Jimmy Fennig talks to Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Fastenal Ford, on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 14: Crew chief Jimmy Fennig talks to Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Fastenal Ford, on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

HOMESTEAD, Fla. –NASCAR’s eventual champion won’t necessarily need to win Sunday’s race, he simply must finish ahead of the other three contenders. And potential spoilers are abound at Homestead-Miami Speedway, including Joey Logano’s shop mate at Team Penske, Brad Keselowski, who posted the fastest lap in Friday’s practice session (179.004 mph).

Consider that Carl Edwards is the all-time leader of laps at the 1.5-mile track (560) and easily owns the best average finish at 6.6. He has seven top-10 finishes in 10 career starts, including triumphs in 2008 and 2011.

Only Edwards (6.6) and Kevin Harvick (8.1) have a better average finish than Martin Truex Jr. at 9.2, whose driver rating trails only Edwards in the last nine Sprint Cup races at Homestead.

Six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson has had season-finale races in which he did not have to go all out for victory. Though Homestead is one of four current tracks at which Johnson has yet to win, he does have eight top-10 finishes in 13 starts. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon has 11 top-10 finishes in 15 starts, including a victory in 2012.

Greg Biffle dominated in Miami, winning three consecutive races from 2004-06 – before permitting then teammate Matt Kenseth to have a shot at Victory Lane in 2007. Kasey Kahne has the best average starting position at Homestead (8.3) although his average finish is a comparatively miserable 15.2.

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