Playoff Excitement - South Dade News Leader: Opinion

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Playoff Excitement

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Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2018 9:35 pm

This past weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, NASCAR passed another landmark on the 2018 schedule, inching one step closer to Ford Championship Weekend here at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the Roval was the final race in the playoff’s Round of 16. As we get ready to begin the next round of the playoffs, we’ve already gotten a glimpse of everything there is to enjoy about NASCAR’s playoff format.

During the playoffs, there are three cutoff races. After each one of these races, four drivers are removed from championship contention. With drivers being eliminated in waves of four throughout the playoffs, the final race of each round constantly provide an exhilarating atmosphere for fans throughout the playoffs.

While the opening race in the Round of 12 may not quite see the same head-to-head point battles or level of urgency from drivers as the cutoff race this past weekend, there’s still plenty on the line for all of the drivers chasing a

championship.

Up until the checkered flag at the Roval, the final playoff positions were still there for the taking. Over the final two laps, Aric Almirola bounced back and forth from being in the playoffs, then out of the playoffs and then finally locked back into the Round of 12 as the checkered flag was waved.

The race this weekend at Dover won’t have drivers eliminated from the playoffs on the last lap, but that doesn’t mean there won’t still be the same intensity on the track. A driver’s performance this week has a huge effect on where they will

stand heading into the next cutoff race in two weeks at Kansas.

You may have also noticed during the first round that drivers are willing to push the limits even further during the playoffs if it means getting a win. Drivers want to reach Victory Lane in the playoffs because it automatically secures them a spot in the next round. Prior to reaching Homestead-Miami Speedway, each round of the playoffs consists of just three races, and so a mistake in just one of the races can prevent a driver from advancing.

In addition to clinching a spot in the next round of the playoffs, a win also earns a driver five extra playoff points. Although five points may not seem like a lot, these points transfer into the standings of the following round with the exception of the Championship 4 here at Homestead-Miami Speedway. These playoff points give drivers with a win a vast advantage over drivers who haven’t won a race this year.

The tie-breaker scenario this weekend proved that not only is racing for a win important, but so is gaining every position possible. Every stage, no matter where a driver is in the field, a single point can be the difference between racing for a championship and being eliminated after the first round.

And finally, the playoff format guarantees that a champion won’t be determined until each of NASCAR’s three national series visit us at Homestead-Miami Speedway. As the host of Ford Championship Weekend, the entire season builds up to what transpires November 16-18 right here in South Florida. Everything the drivers have worked for all season come down to our races, where NASCAR’s champions will be crowned.

So as intense as the Round of 16 was, it was only a taste of the electrifying action of championship racing that will be here before you know it. With only six races left before the Monster Energy Series Championship 4 are determined, I can’t wait for Ford Championship Weekend to be upon us. I hope to see you all there as we again showcase our track during NASCAR’s biggest weekend.

NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND

Sunday, October 7 at 2:00 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Gander Outdoors 400 at Dover International Speedway

Tune In: NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Saturday, October 6 at 3:00 PM (ET)

NASCAR XFINITY Series Bar Harbor 200 presented by Sea Watch International at Dover International Speedway

Tune In: NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is off this weekend. The series will return for the final race of the Round of 8 of their playoffs on Saturday, October 13 at Talladega Superspeedway.

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

October 5 Fast Lane Friday

October 6 Performance Driving Group

October 7 Florida Track Days

October 10-11 Miami Exotics Auto Racing

October 13-14 Formula & Automobile Racing

Association

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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