One Week Away - South Dade News Leader: Opinion

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Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2018 11:30 am | Updated: 12:02 pm, Sun Nov 11, 2018.

Ford Championship Weekend is just one week away and as we get closer and closer to NASCAR’s biggest weekend of the year, it feels like just yesterday that the season was getting started. Since the season kicked off with the Daytona 500 back in February, so much has changed over the last nine months leading up to NASCAR’s championships.

Just like the NASCAR season has seen many changes from race to race, our track has also undergone a transformation in preparation for Ford Championship Weekend. Putting on a championship event is no easy task, and as much as we prepare for Ford Championship Weekend as a staff, the most noticeable efforts are right in front of us.

Every day when I pull into the track’s parking lot, it becomes more and more evident that Ford Championship Weekend is right around the corner. We’re only one week away and it’s truly amazing to look at our property and see just how different it looks this time of year as opposed to after our NASCAR event has come and gone.

As the banners get hung, tents go up and everything else gets ready, I almost don’t recognize our track. Some things do remain the same, though, as our facility is one of the most picturesque race tracks in the country all year long.

Throughout the year, we get to showcase the beautiful climate that has become synonymous with South Florida. It’s an opportunity that not many tracks have, so we try to make the most of it by utilizing different aspects of our land such as our three lakes, two of which are inside the track’s mile-and-a-half oval, and one of which has its own white, sandy beach.

We also make sure to highlight the other tropical scenery around our track as well. There are more than 1,000 palm trees scattered throughout the property, all of which are grown in an on-site nursery, where we cultivate 15 different varieties of palm trees.

With as great as our track is from December to October, it becomes even more grandiose for our signature event in November each year. What’s really neat about the transformation at our track, is that not only does it make our facility look like a whole new track but it also serves as a reminder of all the history that’s been made right here.

As the host of Ford Championship Weekend, we have the honor and privilege of crowning champions in NASCAR’s three national series year in and year out. Because of that, every year that NASCAR comes here, someone gets their name etched into the record books.

If you are coming to the Speedway for Ford Championship Weekend, November 16-18, look up as you walk around the grandstand side. You’ll see banners hung above the entrance to each section that aren’t normally there throughout the rest of the year. While these banners help point fans in the right direction, pay attention to what’s right above the section numbers and you’ll see a picture of a past champion on each of those signs.

It’s incredible to see a nod to the past around our track, and I think for fans, these banners serve as reminder of all the memories they’ve made here during our 17 year run as the host of Ford Championship Weekend. I know for me, these banners help me to remember all of the historic moments that I have gotten to be a part of.

I’ll never forget my first race weekend as President of Homestead-Miami Speedway when Jimmie Johnson won an unprecedented fifth consecutive Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2010. Or 2015, when Kyle Busch missed the first 11 races of the season, but capped off a remarkable comeback by winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 and capturing the first Cup series title of his career. Regardless of who won the championship each season, every time I look up at those banners, I recall so many fond memories from my time here in Homestead.

So as the Speedway continues to change day after day until next Friday when all eyes in the motorsports world are on us, I can’t wait for our race weekend to start. And as the entire NASCAR season culminates with the championship races right here at Homestead-Miami Speedway, I’m anxious to see who will be a part of the Championship 4.

I’m even more excited to see who will be hoisting the trophy at the end of the weekend so that next year, when our track is getting ready for Ford Championship Weekend, I can look up at a new banner being hung and think back to another successful year of playing host to NASCAR’s biggest weekend of the year.

NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND

Sunday, November 11 at 2:30 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway

Tune In: NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Saturday, November 10 at 3:30 PM (ET)

NASCAR XFINITY Series Whelan Trusted to Perform at ISM Raceway

Tune In: NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Friday, November 9 at 8:30 PM (ET)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 at ISM Raceway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

2018 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Nov. 16

Ford EcoBoost 200 Camping World Truck Series Championship Race

Nov. 17

Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race

Nov. 18

Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy Series Championship

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