When the 2024 schedule was released, many people pointed to the finale being Phoenix Raceway for the fifth consecutive season. This weekend, the NASCAR circus heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway, which was once the finale venue from 2002-2019. Dale Earnhardt Jr. even talked about how people miss Homestead as the finale venue, so, should Homestead-Miami Speedway be the finale venue?
Homestead’s Time as a Finale Venue, and Why NASCAR First Left
When Homestead-Miami Speedway was first chosen as the venue for the season finale in 2002, many fans were unhappy at the move at first. Keep in mind that Homestead-Miami was a flat 1.5-mile track back in 2002, and the track was soon reconfigured to the track it is today. Now, it is a 1.5-mile progressively banked (18-20 degrees) track that gradually became more and more popular with the fanbase as time went on.
Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, NASCAR visited Homestead-Miami Speedway only one weekend per year, and that was the finale weekend. The track developed a brand as the home for the NASCAR season finale. An entire generation of NASCAR fans grew up with the track being the home for the season finale, and the races happening underneath a Florida sunset was a perfect metaphor for the ending of a Cup Series season.
As a track, Homestead had some iconic moments and iconic races as the season finale. From Bill Elliott cutting a tire on the final lap and losing the lead in 2003, to the crazy finish to the inaugural 2004 Chase, to Tony Stewart vs Carl Edwards in 2011, to Jimmie Johnson winning his seventh Championship in 2016. However, the track was not totally beloved during its time as the season finale
First off, the 1.5-mile track product during its time as the finale venue was not the best. On top of that, some fans were getting tired of the finale venue being the same every single year. Of course, this was part of a larger conversation about the schedule becoming bland, and NASCAR changed the finale venue in 2020 to Phoenix.
What Makes It a Good Finale Venue
The main reason it worked as a finale venue in the first place is because of its’ location. It is in South Florida, and that means it is one of the only places in the country where the weather is nice enough to race during that time of year. The location just worked perfectly, and the racing was not terrible either.
Now that the Next-Gen car works so well on intermediate tracks, many fans are looking for an intermediate track to host the final race. Homestead-Miami Speedway is an intermediate that could host the final race, and it already has a history as a finale venue.
What is Keeping NASCAR From Having it as the Finale Venue
NASCAR is not always thrilled with going backward on things. Yes, they do at times bring back old traditions such as the traditional Southern 500, but they also change things up. They moved the traditional 4th of July Daytona summer race to August, moved the Brickyard 400 to the road course, and moved the All-Star Race from Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Not all changes are bad by any means, but it shows that NASCAR is changing things up. If they choose to go back to Homestead-Miami Speedway, they would be going backward.
On top of that, Homestead-Miami is a very unique venue. It is unlike any intermediate track out there, and some would argue it tends to favor certain drivers. For example, Kyle Larson won there last year and he has led the most laps there three times. Then again, Larson has only one win there, so, that’s quite a loaded claim to make for a guy who has only one win at a track.
At the end of the day, everyone is on the same playing field with the same rules. Maybe some drivers race around Homestead-Miami well, but, what’s keeping other Championship contenders from improving there?
Homestead-Miami Speedway is a popular choice to become the NASCAR season finale venue once again. Will NASCAR make the move to bring it back in 2025?