The 2021 Homestead-Miami Race Preview predicts what type of race to expect based on the last few years of data.
There is always the warning that past performance doesn’t always predict future performance, but here we also have to consider that this is only the second time we’ve run at Homestead in the spring.
Assuming no rain delays, it will be first time we’ve raced in the afternoon. That will make the track less grippy and could change the nature of the race.
There is also the issue that, with this no longer being the championship race, some drivers may be more aggressive — especially those who had bad outings in the first two races of the season.
Most Cars Finish, but Not on the Lead Lap
Most cars make it to the checkered flag at Homestead. By ‘most’, we’re talking 80-90 %. The red data in the graph below shows the average of the last three races, while the green data show the average of the last five races.
But many of those cars will finish laps down. The 2021 Homestead-Miami race preview suggests that between 25% and 50% of the cars will finish on the lead lap. That is, of course, barring unusual circumstances like rain-shortened races.
The low number of lead lap finishing cars is not because of accidents.
There were two accidents last year and one the year before. Although we’ve had some races with a lot of accidents, it’s been awhile.
Because the number of cars finishing is high, the accidents are much more likely to be repairable than fatal.
The average number of cautions over the last three years is slightly under 5.
Although there will be accidents, don’t expect them to gobble up a lot of the race time. Expect less than 10% of the race to be run under the yellow flag.
No promises about red flags given that this is Florida.
Look for Lots of Lead Changes & Passing
Homestead is a good place for green-flag lead changes. Last year, we had 16 total lead changes and only one of those was during a yellow flag.
In the last three races, we’ve had an average of 11 green-flag lead changes and 5.3 restart-lead changes.
There’s plenty of action throughout the field, also. Expect between 11-15 green flap passes per lap.
Expect a Dominant Driver
We tend to have smaller number of leaders at Homestead. Usually, one driver leads 40%-50% of the laps.
Last year we had seven distinct leaders, with only one of those leading during only yellow-flag laps.
The margin of victory tends to be on the order of a second rather than tenths of a second. We have one race, back in 2005, that was won by tenths of seconds, but the rest of the races have MOVs on the order of a third to a half of a second.
And there are cases in which one driver runs away with the race and wins by two, three or five seconds. The average over the last five races is 1.67 seconds.