With the race weekend at Phoenix International Raceway in the books, it’s time for Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The first of the three series to take the track and decide their champion will be the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the Ford 200 on Friday night. Four drivers from four different teams will be contesting the championship. It’s hard to pick a title favorite, but hopefully this will help decipher who will be the driver to beat.
Among the four championship contenders, only one has stood on the stage in Homestead as a champion before. Matt Crafton became the only driver in Truck Series history to win back-to-back championships after his triumphant runs back in 2013 and 2014. Looking for his third title, Crafton goes to a track he’s run well at in the past. He also happens to be the defending race winner at Homestead, and has some momentum coming off of a third-place finish at Phoenix.
Crafton isn’t the only title contender to win at Homestead, though. Johnny Sauter, Crafton’s former teammate, is in search of his first championship, and 2016 might just be the year for him to win it. The 2011 Homestead winner has the most momentum of any driver left in the Chase. In the second round of the Chase, he won twice and finished second at Phoenix. The question becomes, however, did Sauter and GMS Racing get hot too soon? Only time will tell.
Perhaps the biggest unknown of Homestead is Timothy Peters. Peters is the only title contender yet to win a race in 2016, but consistency got him to the Final 4. The problem for Peters is it’s thought by many that in order to win the championship, you need to win the race. Winning is something Peters hasn’t been able to do yet at Homestead as he has a best finish of third there in 2014. Peters is no stranger to victory lane in the Truck Series, though. He’s been there 10 times, but he’ll likely need an 11th visit on Friday in order to take home the big trophy.
The final of the championship contenders, Christopher Bell, is the polar opposite of the other three. Crafton, Sauter and Peters have an average age of 38, while the rookie is only 21 years old. Bell, in his first full-time season, is seeing Homestead for only the second time in his career. He finished 24th at Homestead last year after running out of fuel late in the race. He’ll need a much higher finish this time around in order to take them the hardware at the end of the night.
While of course all eyes will be on the Championship 4, there will be a few drivers at Homestead trying to steal the show. One of those drivers will undoubtedly be William Byron. Byron was looking to put the lock on his Final 4 spot this past weekend before blowing an engine will dominating the race with less 20 laps to go. The rookie won six races this season, and will try to win his seventh before moving to the NASCAR XFINITY Series full-time next year with JR Motorsports.