History could be made in a variety of ways during this Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway (3:30 PM ET, FOX).
It will mark the first time in history that the 1.5-mile venue, which opened in 1995, has hosted the NASCAR Cup Series race in the month of February. In addition, NASCAR’s premier series could see its third consecutive “first-time” winner to start a season, a feat not accomplished since the inaugural year of 1949 when the series was called the NASCAR “Strictly Stock” division.
The 2021 season has started with two drivers going to Victory Lane in the Cup Series for the initial time, both coming at Daytona International Speedway. Michael McDowell turned the trick in the season-opening DAYTONA 500 while Christopher Bell was the victor in last weekend’s DAYTONA Road Course event.
The only time in history that the first three Cup races of a season were won by drivers who had never been victorious before was in 1949. They included Jim Roper, who won the Cup Series very first race at the now defunct Charlotte Metrolina Speedway (NC), followed by Red Byron, Bob Flock, Curtis Turner and Jack White.
From 1949-2021 the NASCAR Cup Series has seen 18 different first-time winners in the first three races of a season. Since the NASCAR Cup Series began competing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, however, there hasn’t been a driver to claim his first career triumph at the venue.
Overall, only on three occasions in NASCAR history has there been three or more consecutive first-time winners during a stretch, and that came in those first five races of ’49, then twice in 1950 (May/June & September), which was three straight.
Notable drivers seeking third initial triumph in the Cup Series include Bubba Wallace, Matt DiBenedetto (seeking the Wood Brothers 100th win), Tyler Reddick and Florida native Ross Chastain.
This weekend’s action at Homestead-Miami Speedway marks the third time in history that the NASCAR Cup Series season has opened with three consecutive events in the state of Florida. It happened previously in 1952 and 1954, at Palm Beach Speedway, the DAYTONA Beach/Road Course and Speedway Park in Jacksonville. All three of the venues are no longer in existence.
In addition to the Dixie Vodka 400, Homestead-Miami Speedway will host the NASCAR Xfinity Series Contender Boats 250 on Saturday (4:30 pm, FS1/ MRN-Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90).
As a result of the pandemic, Homestead-Miami Speedway will host a limited number of fans for both events. Fans seeking ticket options, as well as learning all safety protocol guidelines for the weekend, can visit www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com or call 866-409-RACE (7223). Special options are available for kids 12 and under, who will be admitted free to Saturday’s Contender Boats 250 with a paying adult.
Denny Hamlin is the defending champion of the Dixie Vodka 400 and will go for two straight wins. The last time a driver won back-to-back at the 1.5-mile venue was Greg Biffle, who actually reeled off three consecutive triumphs from 2004-2006. If Hamlin wins, he will become the winningest Cup driver at HMS (currently tied with Biffle). Harrison Burton, son of former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, will look for consecutive victories in the Xfinity Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Contender Boats 250.