One of the championship favorites will skip critical test at Homestead-Miami Speedway


A notable championship contender – possibly the early favorite — will be absent from next week’s test at Homestead-Miami Speedway, whose Nov. 20 season finale will decide the Sprint Cup title.

Furniture Row Racing won’t bring Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 Toyota to the Oct. 18-19 session at the 1.5-mile oval. A team spokesman said the test was removed from the team’s schedule last week. A Furniture Row Racing official told NBC Sports that the team hasn’t had as much success testing and will focus its preparations on the events after the test.

Homestead-Miami Speedway will play host to the last of several “organizational tests” scheduled by NASCAR during the season. In an organizational test, which isn’t mandatory, only one car per organization is permitted to participate.

As a single-car team, Furniture Row Racing wouldn’t have been in the predicament of having to choose who would test among multiple contenders, which is the case with Joe Gibbs Racing and its four Chase-eligible drivers.

Every other remaining championship contender will be represented at Homestead-Miami Speedway next week: Team Penske (Brad Keselowski), Hendrick Motorsports (Chase Elliott), Stewart-Haas Racing (Kurt Busch), Joe Gibbs Racing (Carl Edwards), Richard Childress Racing (Austin Dillon).

Truex won two of the first three races in the 2016 playoffs at Chicagoland Speedway and Dover International Speedway. He reached the championship round last season, finishing fourth among the Chase contenders (12th overall).

Here’s the list of drivers and teams that are testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway next week (current championship contenders in bold):

–Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford, Team Penske

–Carl Edwards, No.19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing

–Chase Elliott, No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports

–Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing

–Kurt Busch, No.. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing

Chris Buescher, No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports

Ryan Blaney, No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing

Trevor Bayne, No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing

Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing

Michael McDowell, No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle-Sport Leavine Family Racing

David Ragan, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing