With one race left in the Sprint Cup season, Brad Keselowski leads Jimmie Johnson by 20 points—meaning that if Keselowski finishes 15th or better on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he will secure his first Cup title, no matter how Mr. Five-Time finishes. But BK still needs to negotiate 267 laps of Homestead's demanding 1.5-mile oval with its progressively steeper banking. In recent years no driver has been better at HMS than Carl Edwards, who has two wins there and a career-average finish of 5.2. Here Edwards breaks down the keys to a hot Homestead lap.
"You can be aggressive with your car at Homestead. When you head into Turn 1, you feel like you're going uphill, so you can go hard and let the car slide up behind you. There's so much space on the track. You can run high, low or in the middle of the track through Turns 1 and 2."
"When you're exiting, you have to be careful not to spin your tires and abuse them. You've got the throttle on the floor, and you just want to keep your car turning through the corner and sticking to the track. The race can be lost here if you don't manage your tires."
"You have to be a little timid. You feel like you're going downhill, and it's easy to be too aggressive and lose it into the wall. The middle groove usually isn't good. You really have to commit to either the bottom or the top. Turn 3 is far tougher to get through than Turn 1 because there's not as much room."
"You carry a ton of speed coming out. If there's going to be a wreck in the race, it will probably be here. You can go four wide on the frontstretch, so there's a good chance for a side-by-side finish. And the guy in second will have a great chance to pass the leader if he has enough momentum."
Keselowski—who Edwards says will have an edge on speed over Johnson at Homestead based on how fast he's been at similar tracks in the Chase—can afford to be cautious on Sunday and not take any gambles, on the track or in the pits. A clean run will bring him the Cup.
HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY (RACETRACK)