Cole Custer at the Florida Panthers Hockey Game.

Cole Custer at the Florida Panthers Hockey Game.

The last few weeks, I’ve used this space to discuss the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs as we apidly approach Ford Championship Weekend here at Homestead-Miami Speedway, November 15-17. This week served as a good reminder not to forget about the other two national series who will be crowning champions in South Florida, as NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) driver Cole Custer visited our market.

One of the top contenders for the NXS championship, Cole came to South Florida and took in a Florida Panthers game at the BB&T Center. While he was there he got to spend some time interacting with Panthers players as well as with fans who were enthusiastic to meet the rising young star.

It was cool to see the exchanges with Cole and the players, particularly with Jonathan Huberdeau, who has a great appreciation for motorsports and asked some pretty interesting questions about the science of the sport as well as the season itself.

Seeing the excitement from the fans as well was really awesome as Cole took some time to take pictures, sign autographs and talk to some big NASCAR fans who were at the game. It’s always rewarding to be able to surprise a few fans who have long supported the Speedway. Watching their faces light up as they met Cole was the perfect way to do this.

The game gave Cole a nice break away from the track as the NASCAR Xfinty Series is off this week, but as I mentioned before, he still has his eyes on the prize as he’s a favorite to come to Homestead-Miami Speedway in November as part of the Championship 4.

We had the championship trophy on display at the Panthers game and Cole mentioned how bad he wants to hoist it when he returns to Florida, but there is still plenty of work to do. With the NXS playoffs’ Round of 8 set to begin, there are a number of drivers who still have their championship hopes alive.

Along with Custer, Christopher Bell and defending NXS champion Tyler Reddick are viewed as the favorites to advance to the Championship 4.

The ‘Big 3’ have combined to win 19 of the 29 races this season. For Reddick and Bell, this is their last chance to win a NXS title as both drivers will be moving up the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series full-time next year with

Richard Childress Racing and Leavine Family Racing, respectively.

While the aforementioned three drivers are viewed as the favorites, there’s plenty more drivers still in the hunt.

Austin Cindric currently holds the fourth spot, while a trio of ookies – Chase Briscoe, Noah Gragson and John Hunter Nemechek – are among those looking to make noise as the playoffs wind down. 

The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS) are also about to commence their penultimate round before the Ford EcoBoost 200 championship race. Defending champion Brett Moffitt and Florida native Ross Chastain currently lead the field and are fan-favorites to win the title. Both drivers are great stories of perseverance and easy to root for as each have scratched and clawed for everything in their careers.

The remaining drivers in the field are a mix of young drivers and veterans. Austin Hill and Tyler Ankrum are looking to be a part of the Championship 4 in their first ever playoff appearance, while two-time champion Matt Crafton and 36-year-old Stewart Friesen are proving that they can still compete late into their careers.

You may not know much about Tyler Ankrum or Cole Custer right now, you never know how a championship can change someone’s career. Drivers who have won titles in NASCAR’s lower two national series include Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Hall-of-Famer Ron Hornaday Jr.

So as you watch the MENCS playoffs, don’t forget about the NXS and NGOTS because when you come to Ford Championship Weekend, you’ll be able to witness three races and three champions crowned over the course of three days.

NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND

Sunday, October 13

at 2:00 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

Tune In: NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

The NASCAR Xfinity Series is off this weekend and will return to action Saturday, October 19 and Kansas Speedway.

Saturday, October 12

at 1:30 PM (ET)

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Sugarlands Shine 250 at Talladega Superspeedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

Oct. 12-13 Porsche and BMW Owners Club

Oct. 19-20 Formula & Automobile Racing Association (FARA)

Oct. 26-27 Rusty Wallace Racing Experience

Nov. 1 Fast Lane Friday

Nov. 1-3 NASCAR Racing Experience

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

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