In every other sport, the biggest game of the year comes at the end of the season.
The Super Bowl in the NFL, the World Series in baseball, the Finals in the NBA, the World Cup of soccer, and on and on.
They are the last games that crown the leagues champions. They are the biggest events of the year.
In NASCAR, the biggest event of the year is the first game, the first race that kicks off the season: the Daytona 500.
Grumblings have circulated through the garage and grandstands that the biggest event of the year should be at the end of the season, and that the Daytona 500 should be the 36th and final race of the year.
People are looking for the excitement of a restrictor plate race to help crown the champion, as well as bring down the year on a great note.
But after the 2009 Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in FL, many might agree that the track is the perfect place to host the season-ending race, which might not have been said a few years ago.
But the facility wanted to step up and create a new identity. They wanted to be “geared toward the future,” as broadcaster Ken Squier said.
After the 2002 season, Homestead went through a $12 million face-lift.
Going from a flat track with six-degree banking, to a progressive 18 to 22 degree-banked track. Now the racing went from single-file, fighting for the bottom to side-by-side action.
In its first race with its new face, there was last lap drama when Bill Elliott blew a right rear tire going down the backstretch. Bobby Labonte shot by Elliott for the win, which happens to be Labonte’s last win to date.
February of the following year, 2004, future NASCAR driver Sam Hornish Jr. beat Helio Castroneves in a photo finish in the IndyCar series.
Then in November, the track hosted the final race of the inaugural Chase for the Championship and didn’t disappoint.
Late-race, frantic actions produce a champion on the last lap, Kurt Busch, over Jimmie Johnson by just eight points. It’s the closest points finish in NASCAR history.
In November of 2005, the track finished their construction of a Turn One tower and Champions Club with premium seating and private suits.
As Tony Stewart was crowned the 2005 NASCAR champion, Greg Biffle beat teammate Mark Martin in a photo finish, which then tied them for second in points behind Stewart.
Since then, the track continues to produce great side-by-side racing, this past weekend being no exception.
Not only were there many exciting moments, three and four-wide, but in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races, there were drivers that were out for revenge.
Fans, drivers, and even the broadcasters and media members loved what they were seeing. You could hear the excitement in their voices.
Jeff Burton praised the speedway for its great racing, saying at first he thought they were crazy to tear the pavement up and rebuild, and that it would ruin the place. Instead, it’s producing excitement in the only race it hosts, which is also the most important one.
However, it’s not just the track that has been stepping things up.
The surrounding area has come alive and drivers, crews, and media enjoy their time in South Florida. There are many clubs, restaurants, and beaches in the area; the state is lit up and beautiful.
The weather is perfect, as well.
Taking a look at the website for the speedway, they don't just advertise their 600-acre facility, but also the surrounding area, with pictures to show Southern Miami, things to do, and places to see.
There's South Beach, the Florida Keys, Downtown Miami, Keywest Aquarium, Everglades National Park, and much more.
Head to the Sunshine state for some racing and relaxation, then head home for Thanksgiving. The final race of the season might have a little less sting when experiencing it in a great environment.
And now that the track has finally come into its own, putting on great racing and hosting the most important weekend of the NASCAR season, it makes perfect sense to keep the Homestead-Miami Speedway as the racing season's finale.
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