As we rapidly approach Ford Championship Weekend, November 15-17, the excitement around Homestead-Miami Speedway continues to pick up. This week, we had two NASCAR teams out at the track preparing for their return to South Florida later this year, and in a few weeks we’ll have another handful of drivers getting ready for the last stop on the NASCAR calendar.
On Monday and Tuesday, GMS NASCAR Xfinity Series driver John Hunter Nemechek and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver Sheldon Creed were taking laps around the 1.5-mile oval along with Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Harrison Burton as the trio collected race data over the course of two days.
But what really caught my attention when walking through the garage was seeing Brett Moffitt, the reigning NGOTS champion, hanging in the pit stalls helping his GMS teammates Sheldon Creed find speed in his truck.
Even though Moffitt wasn’t able to partake in the test, it spoke volumes about his preparation and attention to detail for each race as he attempts to become the first truck driver to win back-to-back titles since Matt Crafton in 2013-14. It really got me thinking about how hard it is to win a championship in auto racing and just how much it can change a driver’s life or career.
Take Moffitt for example. Last season was one of great adversity for the young driver who was attempting to run a full-time schedule for the first time in his career. He often didn’t know at the beginning of each week whether or not he would enough sponsorship to participate in the next race. He had such a
struggle in fact, that following the season, Hattori Racing opted to replace him despite the fact he had just won a championship a few weeks prior.
As a series champion, however, he didn’t remain a free agent for long. The weight of winning the 2018 series title helped Moffitt quickly land a ride at GMS Racing, one of the top teams in the NGOTS. And of course, Moffitt has made the most of the opportunity, winning multiple races again this season and finding himself in prime position to make a run at another championship.
For other young drivers, winning a championship has been the launching pad for them to break through into NASCAR’s premier series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Recent NXS champions William Byron and Daniel Suarez have seen their careers change by getting a Cup series ride with NASCAR mainstays Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, respectively, immediately after capturing the NXS title. While each of these young drivers are still looking for their first career wins in the Cup series, their NXS titles in 2016 and 2017, respectively, helped validate their talent level and lead to them getting a call up to some of the best teams in the Cup series.
Winning a championship isn’t always about how it changes a driver’s career, however. Sometimes it has just as big an impact on their life away from the track. When Martin Truex Jr. hoisted the championship trophy in 2017, I remember watching on as he had one of the most emotional celebrations I had ever seen.
For Truex, the sweet joy of victory was about more than just racing. Truex’s biggest supporter through all of his ups and downs during his career has always been his longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex. In 2014, when Sherry was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it became Truex’s turn to be her supporter as she fought the battle against cancer.
After years of being there for each other, it was incredible to watch them embrace and share in the championship celebration. With tears running down both of their faces, it really reminded me of how sports have the power to be transcendent. It was one of the most memorable moments I have from my time at Homestead-Miami Speedway and I will never forget it.
So as you tune into Ford Championship Weekend this year, remember just how big of an accomplishment it is to win a title in one of NASCAR’s three national series. Because whether it leads to a driver climbing the NASCAR ranks or to it having an incredible impact on their life, it will be one of the most monumental moments in their lifetime.
NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND
Sunday, August 11 at 3:00 PM (ET)
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway
Tune In: NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90
Saturday, August 10 at 3:00 PM (ET)
NASCAR Xfinity Series B&L Transport 170 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Tune In: NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90
Saturday, August 10 at 1:00 PM (ET)
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway
Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90
UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY
Aug. 10-11 National Auto Sport Association
Aug. 16 Fast Lane Friday
Aug. 17 Give Back at the Track
Aug. 18 Florida Trackdays
Aug. 24-25 Formula & Automobile Racing Association (FARA)
2019 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES
Nov. 15 Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship Race
Nov. 16 Ford EcoBoost 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race
Nov. 17 Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Series Championship Race
2020 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES
Mar. 20 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Race
Mar. 21 NASCAR Xfinity Series Race
Mar. 22 NASCAR Cup Series Race