HOMESTEAD, Fla — Sunday will mark the 18th and final time that the Homestead-Miami Speedway will serve as the Cup Series season finale. Next year, Homestead moves from the last race of the season to the spring with a mid-March date. It will also mark the first time in the history of the South Florida race track that they won’t host a November race.
See, Homestead first appeared on the NASCAR schedule in 1999. The race from 1999 through 2001 was always the second to last race of the season. Then, for 2002 up until now, it’s served as the final stop of the year.
This weekend, marks the final time that Homestead will crown a champion.
“I think it’s important to do that,” Martin Truex Jr. said of being like the Super Bowl and switching the season finale up each year. “I think it’s a great thing for the sport. Certainly Phoenix has earned that opportunity with what they’ve done there and the fan support out there has been incredible.”
Truex, also says that there’s pros and cons of moving the finale around too.
“There’s pluses and minuses to everything, right.?” Truex continued. “I think the plus about here at Homestead, we only come here once a year. Completely different racetrack than anywhere we go. No other track like it. No other mile-and-a-half true oval. Long straightaways. A lot of things are different about Homestead. We don’t race here in the spring. I like that fact.
“I don’t know that we should race for a championship somewhere where we raced already in the season, you know? You’re going to have an idea who is going to be good. This weekend is a total crapshoot because we haven’t been here in a year, it’s a new car, new tire, everything is different. You have no idea what to expect. That’s a good thing for the championship.
“The other thing is, every year a different guy wins it. Not like there’s a favorite every year. That’s a good thing. I don’t know how you make every racetrack that way.
“At the same time I definitely think we should move it around. Pluses and minuses I guess for both.”
Truex’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate of Kyle Busch agrees. He, like Truex, credits the parity among race winners and in turn season champions too.
“Yeah, if you move it around every year, I’m in favor of that,” Busch said on Thursday. “Obviously with Homestead though, if you look at it, it’s been six different winners the last six years, right? So that’s a pretty remarkable feat. Might even be longer than that, I just know six. But as far as Homestead, it’s a really, really racy place, we enjoy it as drivers and it gives itself an opportunity to put on a good show.”
Denny Hamlin is onboard and says that moving it around will force tracks to keep their facilities up to date. He notes Homestead could use to updates while Phoenix just went through a multi million dollar renovation.
“Yeah, I think as long as the facilities are up to date,” Hamlin said. “I think that’s the number one thing we have to be sure of. That and it’s in a good market.
“I think Homestead-Miami, it’s a good market. I think the facilities could use updating, which I think they will. This is not the last time the finale will be in Homestead. You can mark that down.
“Phoenix now gets their time. They spent money on the facility. It’s obviously a huge sports town. They got nearly every professional sport there in that city. It’s just a good market for us.
“People have come out and supported that race in huge capacity, and it hadn’t been a championship race. Why not continue to feed that momentum? Whatever they want to do, I’m good with. As I said, it’s a good market and the facility is up to date.”
The problem though is Phoenix not Homestead hosting the championship in 2020 too is that the racing will be completely different. As the drivers above noted, we’ve seen a several years of different winners in South Florida. Phoenix, could be a place that favors one specific organization. They can take their notes from the spring race and translate them over to the Fall race.
Plus, it’s not like Phoenix’s race last Sunday was a barnburner. Homestead, typically is. Phoenix, saw very little passing all day.
“Phoenix, we all kind of saw the struggle last week a little bit and even before that you had Harvick who dominated, won six, seven in a row, whatever it was,” Busch noted. “And now the JGR cars have won four in a row. So we know that any time you put a championship on the line though there’s going to be different things that happen and different guys that get good.”
Kevin Harvick agrees with that assessment and feels like in 2021, the season finale can’t be at Phoenix. He thinks is should move around.
“I think obviously weather’s a factor and it depends on when the schedule would end, but it would not go back to Phoenix, I can tell you that,” said Harvick. “If it was my schedule it would not go budget being to Phoenix 100 percent because, I mean, that’s just really not the point of moving the championship race around to have it in the same spot consecutive years. So you’ve got California in that mix. Where else? Vegas. I mean, in my opinion, you look at Las Vegas and that would be a great place to end it, both of those racetracks would be great places to end the schedule.”