The Sun Sets on the 2008 NASCAR Season

Charlie TurnerSenior Writer INovember 9, 2008

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From Daytona to Miami–NASCAR begins and ends its season in the Sunshine State.

After Hurricane Andrew left its trail of destruction in 1992, longtime Miami motor sports promoter Ralph Sanchez negotiates a deal with the city of Homestead to build a facility that will revitalize the city.

Groundbreaking took place for the new 434-acre facility known as Homestead-Miami Speedway one year later.  Businessman and sports team owner H. Wayne Huizenga becomes a partner in the project prior to completion.

Grand opening ceremonies for the Speedway are held in November 1995 and NASCAR debuts in front of a sold-out crowd. Executives and dignitaries are given the honor of cutting the ribbon, and Dale Jarrett wins the Nov. 5 Jiffy Lube Miami 300 Nationwide race.

In November 1999, the Speedway hosts NASCAR’s premier division, the Winston Cup Series, and Tony Stewart wins the Pennzoil 400. Prior to the event, Homestead-Miami Speedway nearly doubled its seating capacity and added a massive expansion in Turn 1 under the direction of new track President Curtis Gray.

In 2002, Homestead-Miami Speedway reached another milestone when it was awarded Ford Championship Weekend. For the first time, each of NASCAR’s premier series—the Winston, Busch, and Craftsman Truck Series—concluded its season and crowned its champions on the same weekend at the same track.

The following Spring, the speedway underwent the most technologically advanced track-reconfiguration project in the history of motor sports: a $12 million re-banking project that transformed the track from a flat 6-degrees to a computer-designed 18-to-20-degree variable banking system in the turns.

That fall, the Ford Championship Weekend took place on the new banking, drawing rave reviews from fans.

2004 saw the first Chase for the NEXTEL Cup finale at the Speedway, as Kurt Busch secures his first NEXTEL Cup Series championship. One year later, Championship Weekend takes place under the lights for the very first time. Tony Stewart wins the Cup Series Championship and Greg Biffle wins his second consecutive Ford 400.

Jimmie Johnson wins the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship in 2006, and Greg Biffle wins his third consecutive Ford 400.   One year later, Johnson wins his second consecutive NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship, and Matt Kenseth takes the checkered flag in the Ford 400.

Johnson only has to finish 38th or better to secure his third consecutive Sprint Cup Championship.  Carl Edwards is the only other Chaser to have a shot at Johnson.  As Carl said after the race at Phoenix; he still has a chance for the championship, but it isn’t very likely.  Keep in mind though–Roush-Fenway Racing Fords have won over half of the races at Miami.