Homestead-Miami Rear View Mirror
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on November 18, 2012 | 6:57 P.M. EST
"There's not a better track on the schedule to host the NASCAR season finales than Homestead-Miami Speedway." (Photo: Getty Images)
HOMESTEAD, Fla. - News, notes and observations from the season-ending weekend of racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again... there's not a better track on the schedule to host the NASCAR season finales than Homestead-Miami Speedway.
A quick look at the calendar tells you there aren’t many spots around the country the weekend before Thanksgiving that are capable of even holding three NASCAR races weather-wise. Maybe for that reason alone, Homestead and its perfect south Florida climate wins the conversation.
But then there’s the actual track layout, which makes Homestead definitely the best 1.5-mile speedway on the schedule.
After two previous incarnations, HMS has been transformed into quite possibly the perfect mile-and-a-half track.
There are certainly other tracks with the same measurement out there – too many in my opinion – but none quite like Homestead.
The progressive banking and wide-open spaces provide drivers with a variety of options to get around Homestead and that was very evident in all three races this weekend.
Rather than the dogleg front stretches at places like Charlotte, Texas and Atlanta or the D-shaped layouts of Kentucky, Kansas, Las Vegas and Chicagoland, Homestead is a true oval. In fact, outside of Dover, Homestead is a one of a kind in that category.
The track is very reminiscent of the "old" Atlanta track before Speedway Motorsports Inc., transformed it into more or less a carbon copy of its sisters in Charlotte and Texas. While drivers still praise the new Atlanta, mostly because of its warn out surface, there was absolute love for the previous edition with that affection now focused on Homestead.
Now in addition to the tremendous racing product, which is by the way the most important aspect to the weekend, the other amenities of the area are also stellar.
The Miami market presents the same challenges NASCAR faces whenever it visits other major cities like Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta or Los Angeles. Although the track did dodge a bullet in terms of attention when the Dolphins played on Thursday night, it’s still a tough nut to crack. There are literally hundreds of entertainment options either in the sports world or otherwise to combat in these huge metropolitan areas.
The season should end at Homestead and will for at least the next three years, the length Ford has on its contract to sponsor the finale. I see no reason not to keep things going beyond then end of that deal.
Homestead-Miami Speedway is the ideal spot to crown all three national champions and to bring the NASCAR season to a crescendo.
- It may not have had the same drama as last year’s Tony Stewart-Carl Edwards title battle, but Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 season finale was still a compelling finish to the championship. Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson decided the crown through a strategy contest that at one point was in favor of the Hendrick Motorsports driver until disaster struck with first a pit road miscue and then a rare mechanical issue. The duo made for an interesting championship story that ended with Keselowski hoisting his first Sprint Cup trophy.
- Watching Keselowski take the Miller Lite Dodge to the top of the mountain had to be bittersweet to say the least for the departing manufacturer. There was a lot of speculation over the weekend about whether Dodge would reconsider its decision to pull out of NASCAR and the possibility certainly remains. It wouldn’t be before 2014 but after the way the year turned out it’s understandable if there are some heavy hearts around the Dodge camp right now.
- It’s inevitable the driver who wins the last race of the year not in the championship picture gets overlooked and that is the case for Jeff Gordon. Except for the fact some thought Gordon shouldn’t even have been in Homestead and rather parked by NASCAR for his incident with Clint Bowyer last week. But Gordon erased Homestead from the lost of tracks where he has not won a Sprint Cup Series race and after a week of being in the spotlight for maybe the wrong reasons can go into the off-season as the year’s last winner.
- Then there’s Bowyer who ended his first season with Michael Waltrip Racing finishing second in the standings. It capped an unbelievable turnaround year for the organization and perhaps the foundation to compete for the 2013 title.