The 2021 Homestead Race Review focuses on tire fall-off, the fastest cars, and which teams were able to keep up with the track.
2021 Homestead in One Graph
Let’s look first, as we always do, as the lead- and caution-o-grams.
Homestead doesn’t normally have a lot of cautions, but it is unusual to have two oil/fluid on track cautions. Only one actual accident, plus a competition caution and the expected two stage cautions.
The Lead-O-Gram shows the story of who was able to tune their car to keep up with the track as it changed and who wasn’t.
- Logano and Keselowski lead in the start of the race, but faded. Keselowski finished 16th and Logano 25th.
- Chris Buescher surprised everyone by leading laps at the end of stage 1 and start of stage 2. His car faded, too. He finished 19th
- Byron’s car came alive in stage 3, most of which he led. The only exceptions were during pit stops.
- Although Larson, Suárez and Wallace led laps, they led during green-flag pitstops by staying out.
Leaders and Lap Leaders
There were 20 lead changes with 9 distinct leaders and 8 quality leaders. That’s higher than a typical recent Homestead race.
Byron led the most laps by far, dominating the third stage.
Lead Lap Finishes
I mentioned in the Race Preview that a lot of cars tend to get lapped at Homestead. That still happened, but to a slightly lesser extent than usual.
Even so, there was only one car one lap down, but 6 cars more than three laps down. Also: 3 DNFs.
Buescher had the most fastest laps with 41 out of the 267 laps run. Byron was second with 34.
This graph suffers from being mostly raw data. I haven’t gotten a routine to filter out drivers who got fast laps during cautions, or to flag drivers who led during green-flag pit cycles, when the fastest cars might be on pit road.
But the most interesting graph is looking at each driver’s fastest lap and what lap that was.
The number after the slash tells you what lap the driver’s fastest lap was.
- Byron had the fastest lap of the race.
- Reddick never ran faster than anyone in the top 10’s best lap, yet finished second. I’m wondering if that has to do with his preferred path at the top of the track. That means he’s actually running a longer distance, but with a fast enough car, he apparently kept up with the leaders just fine.
- Harvick’s fastest lap was on Lap 2, but he still managed a top-five finish.
- Some drivers’ cars got faster as the night went on, but because Homestead is a track where a lot of the field falls off the lead lap, even a fast car last in the race wasn’t enough.
Tire Fall Off
Everyone talks a lot about tire fall off, which is actually lap-time rise. But you can see it clearly in our leaders’ lap time graph. The red line I’ve superposed in the figure below is the same slope each time it appears.
There’s variation, of course, because of where you’re running relative to other cars, but it’s a pretty consistent increase in lap time over the course of a green-flag run.
That’s your 2021 Homestead Race Review!