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Qualifying format, Goodyear tires, story lines and more

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For years, Homestead-Miami Speedway played a critical role in determining the NASCAR Cup Series championship.

The South Florida mile-and-a-half track is back in the playoffs and ready to help decide who races for the title in 2022. Cup stars charge into Homestead for the first time since February 2021 for the Dixie Vodka 400 on Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Get set for the middle race of the Round of 8 here:

RELATED: Weekend schedule | Cup Series standings

SET THE GRID

Teams will be broken into Groups A and B for 20 minutes of practice (10:05 a.m. ET, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) for each group, respectively. Following practice, the series will roll into two rounds of single-car, single-lap qualifying set to begin at 10:50 a.m. to set the starting lineup.

With the postseason underway, playoff drivers and teams will be ordered by their previous race metrics and assigned to Group A or B by the usual odd/even metric procedures. Playoff teams will be the final cars to qualify in their respective groups.

Each driver will post one lap during their time trial. The fastest five drivers from each group will advance to the final round of qualifying, where those 10 drivers will set one more circuit to fight for the Busch Light Pole Award. The driver who sets the quickest lap in the session will start first on Sunday.

MORE: Paint Scheme Preview | Qualifying order

HOMESTEAD HISTORY

— After Hurricane Andrew ravished Homestead in August 1992, long-time street-race promotor Ralph Sanchez approached the city of Miami with a proposal to build a track. Within two weeks, he negotiated an agreement whereby the city would own the track on county land and lease the facility to Sanchez.

— Ground was broken Aug. 23, 1994. The first points race was an Xfinity Series race held on Nov. 5, 1995, won by Dale Jarrett before a sellout crowd. The first competition held at the facility was an exhibition race for the Truck Series won by Geoff Bodine.

— The first Cup race was Nov. 14, 1999, won by Tony Stewart driving the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Pontiac. It was Stewart‘s third win of his rookie season. Stewart also won the following year.

— ISC (now merged with NASCAR) became the sole owner of the speedway in 2001 pursuant to an agreement that was made in 1997 when ISC acquired 40% ownership.

— In 2003, the track underwent a major reconfiguration from what was nearly a flat 1.5-mile track to computer-designed progressive banking of 18-20 degrees in the turns. The project required over 4 million cubic feet of fill that was hauled in with 10,000 truckloads. The pole speed jumped nearly 25 mph in 2003 to 181.111 mph (the all-time record) from the previous record of 156.440 mph.

— Miami was the Cup Series’ season-ending race from 2002-2019.

— Miami was the third race of the season in 2021 and is the third-to-last race in 2022.

Source: Racing Insights

GOODYEAR TIRES

Teams will use a new left-side tire compound at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, a code confirmed by teams during NASCAR’s organizational test at the facility in September.

Combined with reliable test data, there should be little surprise as teams dial in setups. The right-side tire used this weekend is the same as was used at Pocono in addition to the second races at Kansas, Texas and Las Vegas.

The abrasive surface at Homestead provides conditions that will likely result in tire conservation and management.

“Homestead is a high-wear track, and that wear, along with the resultant tire fall-off, creates a lot of ‘comers‘ and ‘goers‘ throughout the field over the course of a run,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear‘s director of racing. “Another thing to watch for, like at Las Vegas last weekend, is teams‘ air, camber and suspension settings. With this Next Gen car, teams have found that getting the rear end of the car down and sealed off helps the diffuser create more rear downforce. We continue to provide teams with test data to help them understand the true risk vs. reward in running lower than recommended air at various setups.”

VICE CITY STORYLINES

— Joey Logano is locked into the Championship 4 for the fifth time in the past nine years, continuing his streak of advancing to the title race in every even year since the elimination format was introduced in 2014.

— Logano (2018) and Chase Elliott (2020) are the only remaining past champions in the playoffs.

— Nineteen different drivers have won this year, tied for the most all time.

— The last 10 races have each been won by different drivers — Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, Bubba Wallace, Chris Buescher, Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell and Joey Logano.

— William Byron won the last race at each of the next two tracks in the Round of 8 (Martinsville Speedway in April and Homestead-Miami Speedway in February 2021).

— Ross Chastain has scored 79 more points than any other driver this season in the eight races at 1.5-mile tracks.

— Joe Gibbs Racing‘s next win is its 200th and would make it the third organization with at least 200 wins.

— Kyle Larson, 2021, is the only driver to win the second race in the Round of 8 and go on to win the championship

Source: Racing Insights

MIAMI MONEY

Only three drivers have won at least three races in 2022: Chase Elliott (five), Joey Logano (three) and Tyler Reddick (three).

Atop the odds board this week is none other than Reddick at 7-1 odds, according to DraftKings on Tuesday. Reddick is known for ripping the high line around the abrasive mile-and-a-half to near perfection, scoring each of his two Xfinity Series championships by doing so. He hasn’t won there yet in the Cup Series, but two starts have produced two top fives — fourth in 2020 and runner-up in 2021. He also won at Texas, another 1.5-mile track, last month.

Ryan Blaney (9-1) could use a good run after crashing at Las Vegas and rolling to a 28th-place finish, but his Homestead numbers are lacking. In seven starts, Blaney has just one top-10 finish in Miami, although that was a third-place effort in 2020.

A sleeper, though, could be Chase Briscoe, who, at 25-1 odds, continues to score impressive points and finishes through the 2022 playoffs. Nine points beneath the elimination line, a fourth-place finish at Vegas bodes well for the sophomore driver who has wins in both the Xfinity Series (2020) and Truck Series (2017) at Homestead.

MORE: Complete list of odds for Sunday

Logano vs. Blaney: Who wins Homestead-Miami matchup? – Powered By PickUp

FANTASY LIVE

Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live, which reset for the playoffs. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts by garaging a driver by the end of Stage 2, and there is a $10,000 prize for the playoff winner.

The 2022 Fantasy Live points leaders are Chase Elliott (1,110), Joey Logano (1,030) and Ryan Blaney (1,006).

In addition to Fantasy Live, NASCAR.com is offering the Playoffs Grid Challenge presented by Ruoff Mortgage during the playoffs.

How to play: Fantasy Live | Set up a team today!

ALSO ON NASCAR.COM

Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week, the full field of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.

NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement to the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.

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