South Dade News Leader: Matt Becherer

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Matt Becherer

Thursday 11/16/2017
Ford Championship Weekend is Here

South Dade Welcomes the World for a Great Weekend of NASCAR Championship Racing

   While 2017 saw a number of changes in NASCAR, including the introduction of stage racing, one thing that remained the same was that drivers across all three of NASCAR’s national series had a goal of being crowned champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway at the end of the season. That goal is now within reach for the Championship 4 drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, as they will lay everything on the line to hoist their respective series trophy on either Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

   In the Monster Energy Series, this year’s Championship 4 is undoubtedly the best we have seen since the new playoff format was instituted in 2014. Past champions Brad Keselowski (2012), Kevin Harvick (2014) and Kyle Busch (2015) will each have the opportunity to clinch their second Monster Energy Series championships, while Martin Truex Jr. can conclude his incredible 2017 season by winning the first of his career.

   The 2017 NASCAR campaign started off slowly for Kyle Busch, as a string of bad luck and heart-breaking finishes had Busch mired in a personal worst 36-race winless streak. That all changed in July at Pocono, as the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing machine took home his first checkered flag of the season. In the weeks to follow, Busch would win four more races, including three in the playoffs to solidify his spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

   When Martin Truex Jr. made his Championship 4 debut in 2015, he was recognized as the undisputed underdog. However, for the past two seasons, one could argue that his Furniture Row racecar has been the class of the field, taking home 11 victories in that span. His series-leading seven victories this year had him entrenched at the top of the standings for much of 2017 and he now heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for his second Championship 4 appearance.

   As for Kevin Harvick, he has been the face of consistency since 2014, making the Championship 4 three out of the last four years. Harvick is no stranger to success at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as he won the Ford EcoBoost 400 in 2014 to take home his first Monster Energy Series championship. His average finish of seventh place at the 1.5-mile championship oval is the highest of all active drivers, which bodes well for the 41-year-old out of Bakersfield, California.

Of the quartet, Keselowski is the only driver who hadn’t punched his ticket into the Championship 4 prior to the third and final race in the Round of 8 at Phoenix. He is also the only contender who has not previously participated in the Ford EcoBoost 400 as part of the Championship 4. After advancing past the Round of 12 following a win at Talladega Superspeedway, the 33-year-old used two top-5 showings, at Martinsville Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, to lock his spot in Miami for a chance at his second title.

In addition to the unprecedented drama that will unfold during Sunday’s Championship 4 race, the Ford EcoBoost 400 marks the final laps of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Monster Energy Series career. Over his 19 years in the Cup Series, Earnhardt has amassed 26 victories. More importantly, the 14-time Most Popular Driver has done a great deal for NASCAR by attracting new fans to the sport and also paving the way for future stars as owner of JR Motorsports in the XFINITY Series.   

   Earnhardt’s legacy will be celebrated throughout the weekend and will be capped off with his final ride on Sunday.

Like the Monster Energy Series, the Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series will host their Championship 4 races with the Ford EcoBoost 200 on Friday and the Ford EcoBoost 300 on Saturday. The field of drivers in each of those two series this year is very impressive and includes intriguing storylines from some of NASCAR’s young rising stars and proven veterans.   

   In each race, the Championship 4 drivers will compete amongst a full field of drivers for their respective title.

While the on-track action will highlight the three-day championship tradition, Homestead-Miami Speedway also hosts a multitude of activities and amenities for fans of all ages throughout the weekend.

   For those camping in the GEICO Gecko RV Park, there will be a plethora of entertainment. The Victory Tour Stage will host a live DJ during the day, in addition to pre and post-race concerts on Friday and Saturday by Levi Riggs and the Jess Zimmerman Band. The RV Park will also feature a competitive cornhole tournament where the winner gets to take home Ford Championship Weekend-branded cornhole boards.

Those looking for even more thrills can head over to the Monster Energy display for an action sports show where motorcyclists will be performing high-flying stunts. The display will also be the site of a Bellator MMA fight between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Dan Henderson on Sunday at 11:30 AM, and a Hairball band post-race concert following the Ford EcoBoost 400.

   Also on Sunday morning, will be two other great forms of entertainment. The track will be hosting the Ford Car Show where fans can check out classic Ford vehicles, and also get a chance to see racing legends Edsel Ford II, Jack Roush, Tony Stewart and Eddie Wood judging and selecting an overall winner. Then, right before the green flag waves for the Ford EcoBoost 400, fans will be treated to a special pre-race performance by the Eli Young Band.

   As another NASCAR season prepares to culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway, we look forward to once again putting on a great weekend. Not only is Ford Championship Weekend about celebrating champions, but it is also about the great fans that attend the event. We can’t wait to see you here.

NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND

Sunday, November 19 at 2:30 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Tune In: NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Saturday, November 18 at 3:30 PM (ET)

NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Tune In: NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Friday, November 17 at 8:00 PM (ET)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Posted in News, Homestead, Opinion, Columnists, Matt becherer, Sports on Thursday, November 16, 2017 5:30 am. Updated: 5:32 pm. Comments (0)

MATT BECHERER

Matt Becherer is President of Homestead-Miami Speedway. This long-time motorsports executive is one of the good guys, and he leads a team of 40 that operate the track. If you would like to talk to Matt, he can be reached at chatwithmatt @homesteadmiamispeedway.com.

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