Ford Championship weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway is arguably the biggest weekend of the NASCAR season. This this the weekend they crown the national series champions.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the elite series of NASCAR and usually gets the majority of the attention. This weekend the points gap between first and second in the series is wide enough that the leader, Jimmie Johnson, has to only manage a 23rd place finish to clinch his sixth series championship. Not that finsihning 23rd among the world’s best drivers is easy, but with Johsnon’s performance this season and for the last several seasons, it is like kicking a fifteen yard field goal – Not a guarantee, but not exactly a nail biter.
The Camping World Truck Series which many opine has the best competition on track. Firday nights Ford Ecoboost 200 solidifies that opinion. Truly an impressive display of racing talent and competition that NASCAR should be proud of. The championship, however, was basically sewed up before the race. Matt Crafton only had to start the race to clinch the title.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series is widely considered a developmental series, though NASCAR states that it is not. It is actually a stand-alone series, and actually the No. 2 form of motorsports in the United States. Even with these numbers, the series still plays second fiddle in realm of public opinion form the NASCAR community.
This weekend, however, the Nationwide Series has a lot to be proud of. The championship battle is the closest among the three series. The profiles of the two contenders are, to say the least, completely different. Sam Hornish is 34 years old, has three Indycar championships, and is currently in a position where he may need this championship to assist him in landing a sponsor to keep him in NASCAR for 2014. Austin Dillon, is a young-gun driver, with a racing pedigree, one Camping World Truck Series championship in the bank, and pretty much has his future already planned out thanks to the fact that his grandfather is Richard Childress, owner of an elite NASCAR team. That fact also drives him to prove himself as a driver to help quiet the critics who feel he is getting a free ride.
In addition to the driver’s championship, the manufacturer’s championship is so close that it will come down to who wins – Ford or Chevy. Not only is it a classic Ford vs. Chevy battle, but even more tantalizing – if Toyota wins, it could come down to an unprecedented tie-breaker possibly going down to which car has the most fourth place finishes.
Finally, let’s not forget the fantastic owner’s championship battle as well. Roger Penske’s No.22 and Joe Gibbs No. 54 are separated by only four points. A battle that is so important that Penske added an additional car this weekend. Defending Sprint Cup Series champion, Brad Keselowski, will drive the No. 48 Discount Tire Ford in the Ford Ecoboost 300. This entry could be to just assist Joel Logano, who is driving the No. 22 or it could be to just play mind games with the No. 54 driver, Kyle Busch. Busch recently made contact with Keselowski in a Nationwide race crashing him and being less than apologetic about it. This move may have Kyle looking over his shoulder wondering of payback is coming. That could give Penske the edge they need to secure the title.
With so many dramatic storylines, series director, Wayne Auton, has plenty to smile about as he closes his first season with the series. His Nationwide Series is definitely the crown jewel of the Ford Championship weekend. The green flag will fall on the Ford Ecoboost 300 at 4:30 pm local time.