Homestead-Miami Rear View Mirror

NASCAR

Pistone: "Sunday’s season ending Ford EcoBoost 400 was pretty darn entertaining." (Photo: Getty Images)

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Was it the most exciting finish in the history of the Sprint Cup Series championship?

No.

But Sunday’s season ending Ford EcoBoost 400 was still pretty darn entertaining.

Exciting racing – check. Drama – check. Championship implications – check. An explosion and a fire – boom.

The final 400 miles of the 2013 season didn’t fail to deliver on a lot of fronts even if it didn’t live up to the 2011 title tiebreaker between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards for the Chase championship.

In one of the strangest years NASCAR has ever produced - one riddled with controversy, scandal and just plain weirdness - ending the season with a focus solely on what happened on the racetrack was necessary and in all honesty quite refreshing.

The sanctioning body continues to try and reinvent itself in an effort to attract more fans and grow big time stock car racing for the future. These are necessary steps and no easy task to say the least.

But there is one simple element to help any sport prosper – the product.

If NASCAR can somehow find a way for more days like Sunday at Homestead to be the main story, things will be headed in a positive direction. Competitive racing was the name of the game for a little more than three hours, enough to interest and captivate those in the stands, listening on radio and watching on television.

Let’s hope 2014 has a lot more Homestead-type days during the season.

  • Denny Hamlin’s horrendous year at least ended on a positive note with his win. There was no doubt Hamlin was a guinea pig during the Chase running some experimental engine ideas and set-ups, which no doubt added to his miserable showing. But after a year of injuries, frustration and some bad luck it was nice to finally see something nice happen to Hamlin Sunday night in south Florida.
  • A number of drivers made what more than likely will be their farewell to full-time Sprint Cup Series competition Sunday. Ken Schrader officially announced his Cup career was over, Mark Martin will move into a testing role for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, Bobby Labonte has no definite plans and Jeff Burton appears headed for a limited schedule with Michael Waltrip Racing. Each driver made their impact on the sport in a significant way and will be missed. It’s not an officially changing of the guard but at the very least the end of an era for NASCAR’s top series.
  • Of all the many 1.5-mile tracks in the NASCAR world, Homestead continues to generate some of the best racing on the entire schedule. All three races this weekend featured multiple groove and side-by-side racing, no doubt a by-product of the track’s progressive banking and worn out surface. There’s always much debate about where the season should end but I have a hard time from simply a standpoint of pure racing to find a better venue then Homestead. The weather ain’t so bad around these parts either around this time of the year.
  • Unfortunately Saturday night’s Nationwide Series championship race was marred by a controversial extended yellow flag that robbed drivers and more importantly fans an opportunity to see the finish and title played out. The comedy of errors that stretched the final clean up to a mind-boggling 12 laps was a mistake NASCAR simply can’t allow to happen again. The mess has triggered conspiracy theories the sanctioning body favored Austin Dillon and Richard Childress as champions and black helicopters flew around Homestead all night long. While I dismiss those allegations, I’ll leave it at NASCAR has to find more consistency across the board in officiating.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup

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