Homestead: News of note, schedule

* Harvick, Hamlin Chasing History-Making Achievements In The Loop: Data Shows Stewart Isn't The Only Potential Spoiler At Ford 400 Looking for potential "spoilers" at Sunday's Ford 400? Don't stop at the recently on-the-roll Tony Stewart (No.

* Harvick, Hamlin Chasing History-Making Achievements

In The Loop: Data Shows Stewart Isn't The Only Potential Spoiler At Ford 400

Looking for potential "spoilers" at Sunday's Ford 400?

Don't stop at the recently on-the-roll Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) when targeting drivers outside the Chase as possible Victory Lane visitors on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Data gathered from electronic scoring loops imbedded at intervals around race tracks not only assist NASCAR officials in "freezing" the field during caution periods. The loops have yielded a bevy of telling statistics that serve as solid indicators on just what to expect from drivers week-to-week.

For example, based on loop data gathered from the 2005 Ford 400:

* Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) had the top HMS-specific Driver Rating; at last year's event, he compiled a 134.6 Driver Rating while finishing fourth. In addition, Edwards -- who is outside the Chase field, in 12th place this week -- has accumulated the third-highest number of points during the Chase races, an average point total of 141.7 per race. ... Edwards never fell out of the top 15 during last year's race.

* Don't count out Casey Mears (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge), who had the second-best Driver Rating at last year's Ford 400, 125.8, and a fifth-place finish.

* And of course, don't forget Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford), winner of the last two Ford 400s. Biffle had a Driver Rating of 118.6 a year ago at HMS.

Keys To Victory: HMS Layout "Racy"

Much was made of Homestead-Miami Speedway's reconfiguration two years ago, which resulted in increased banking -- and increased "racyness." Consensus now holds that HMS is no ordinary intermediate layout. Following is further consensus, regarding ways to best negotiate the 1.5-mile season-finale site on Sunday.

* Contenders Beware: The five Chase drivers eligible for the championship must take care of their equipment and avoid trouble. It's their final opportunity this season to win the championship and they must strike a balance between being aggressive and racing with patience.

* Getting Into The Groove: Homestead-Miami provides 2-3 good grooves for racing. It is key that the driver find the right groove and get the car to handle well with the progressive banking the track has to offer.

* Negotiating Pit Road: Getting onto pit road at Homestead-Miami can be a bit tricky. The driver can't afford to let his guard down and carry too much speed into the access road.

Harvick Trying To Pull Off Ultimate NASCAR 'Double'

Winning the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship is motivation enough for any driver.

Kevin Harvick's motivation goes beyond that. It is a motivation working double-time, resulting from his season-long double-duty in both NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and NASCAR Busch Series competition.

Harvick, who clinched his second NASCAR Busch Series title last month (he won the title for the first time in 2001) is trying to become the first driver to win both series championships in the same season.

If anyone can pull this off, it would seem to be Harvick.

After all, he is the only driver to win the NASCAR Busch Series title while also competing full-time in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup; in his championship 2001 season, he finished ninth in the points, in NASCAR's top series.

35th Spot In Owner's Points Takes On New Meaning

Weekly, the top 35 teams in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series car owner point standings are guaranteed starting spots in a race field. Those outside the top 35 are forced to rely on their qualifying efforts, to get into the show.

Coming out of Homestead, the 35th spot is even more important. For the first five races of 2007, the top 35 "locked-in" status will be based on the final 2006 car owner points.

Meaning, if you end this season out of the top 35, there's a chance you could end up failing to make the Daytona 500 field next February.

This week, the final locked-in spot belongs to the No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge owned and driven by Kyle Petty. Only 47 points behind: the No. 14 Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevrolet owned by Bobby Ginn and driven by Sterling Marlin -- a two-time Daytona 500 champion.

Hamlin No Ordinary Rookie

Denny Hamlin likely will be announced as the 2006 Raybestos Rookie of the Year this weekend. But in addition to that honor, Hamlin is also trying to become the first driver to win Rookie of the Year and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship in the same season.

If that doesn't happen, then there's another goal. Hamlin can try and match the best-ever final points finish by a rookie of the year -- second, by James Hylton, in 1966.

This year, Hamlin will become the 10th rookie of the year to finish the season in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10. That is an elite group that includes reigning and 2002 series champion Tony Stewart and seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt.

Advantage, Dodge: 6-Point Lead in Manufacturers' Championship 2nd-Place Battle

Chevrolet has clinched its 30th Manufacturers Championship in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, but the battle for second place continues between Dodge and Ford.

Chevrolet clinched the title on Sept. 17, at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Coming into Homestead-Miami Speedway, Dodge has a 199-193 lead over Ford. (Chevrolet is the runaway leader, with 273 points).

Ford has won the championship 15 times. Dodge has won it twice -- in 1970 and '75. Dodge returned to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2001 after a long absence.

On Deck: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champions Week in New York City

For the 26th consecutive year, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony is coming to the famed Waldorf=Astoria hotel in New York City. This year's event is set for Friday night, Dec. 1 and, as always that will culminate a full week of activities for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion, and an entourage of other titlists -- from the NASCAR Busch Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, the NASCAR Autozone Elite Divisions and the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series.

This year's Victory Lap is set for Wednesday, Nov. 29, starting at 8:30 a.m. in front of Good Morning America's Time Square studios on 44th Street and Broadway. Victory Lap ends approximately a half-hour later at the ESPN Zone in Times Square, at 42nd and Broadway.

Moving on...NASCAR's annual luncheon for New York and Northeast media is again slated for the renowned 21 Club on Wednesday afternoon from 12:30-2:30 p.m.

On Thursday, Nov. 30, the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon will be held at Cipriani's Restaurant, which for the first time will be a combination of two long-running previous events.

For a number of years, NASCAR held an annual press conference on Thursday afternoon of Champions Week, featuring the top-10 drivers and a "state of the sport" theme, while the NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) had its annual Myers Brothers Breakfast on Friday morning, where a variety of year-end awards were presented.

Etc.

* Jimmie Johnson has finished first or second in five consecutive races. The last time that a driver posted five straight finishes of first or second was by Jeff Gordon between Loudon and Martinsville in 1998. Two of those finishes were victories. The last time a driver posted six consecutive first or second-place finishes was also by Gordon, between Bristol and North Wilkesboro in 1996. Gordon won four of those six races. Incidentally, Gordon's streak came one race after he had won four straight between Pocono and Michigan.

* Four drivers have posted five or more victories this season: Kasey Kahne (six), Tony Stewart (six), Jimmie Johnson (five) and Kevin Harvick (five). The last time there were four drivers with five or more victories each in a season occurred in 1969: Bobby Isaac (17), David Pearson (11), Richard Petty (10) and LeeRoy Yarborough (seven). And, for the sake of comparison, there were 54 races in 1969.

Fast Facts:

The Race: Ford 400

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date: Sunday, Nov. 19
The Time: 2:50 p.m. (ET)

TV: NBC, 2 p.m. (ET)

Track Layout: 1.5-mile oval
Distance: 400 miles (267 laps)

Purse: $5,200,543

2005 Winner: Greg Biffle
2005 Pole: Carl Edwards

Pre-Race On-Track Schedule: Friday -- Practice, 11:35 a.m.-1:05 p.m. Qualifying, 3:10 p.m. Saturday -- Practice, 1-2 p.m. and 2:35-3:20 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kyle Petty , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Sterling Marlin , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Richard Petty , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Denny Hamlin , David Pearson