August 27, 2014

Super Bowl-type rotation for Cup series finale would be welcomed change

Changing tracks for the last race could be the best-case scenario for TMS to land the finale.

Eddie Gossage talked at length Tuesday about the reasons why Texas Motor Speedway would make sense to become the de facto championship track for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

He said high-ranking NASCAR officials approached him about making Texas the final stop of the season. And he rattled off reasons that made sense, from being a successful track in a major market to having more than 135,000 seating capacity.

But, for reasons unknown to Gossage, TMS was not awarded the finale. Instead, the track’s fall race will once again coincide with the opening of deer hunting season.

NASCAR opted to stay with Homestead-Miami Speedway as the season-ending track for the 14th consecutive season.

NASCAR chairman Brian France talked earlier this summer that he liked having the final race in South Florida because “the weather is great that time of year” and “it’s a good market for us.”

It’s funny how he didn’t mention, or possibly forgot to, about how great the racing was or how memorable the track is. Of course, to most racing fans, Homestead-Miami isn’t likely on their bucket-list of tracks to visit.

You might see Daytona or Bristol or Talladega or Indianapolis.

So is it time for a change?

Homestead-Miami is in a desirable location, but it’s not steep in history. It opened in November 1995 and has only been a stop on the Cup circuit since 1999.

In fairness, Texas doesn’t have much more history in only 19 years of existence and likely isn’t a must-see track for diehards.

But TMS certainly seems to always have some sort of drama attached to its races, whether it’s Kyle Busch complaining about the NASCAR rule book or respected drivers such as Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton getting into a fight.

There likely isn’t a “best” option for the season finale, and NASCAR simply isn’t an organization that changes simply to change.

That’s understandable, but altering it up slightly would be nice. It’s been suggested that NASCAR moves to a Super Bowl-type rotation between tracks, given that the finale has essentially become the championship site for the sport.

And that, it seems, is the right approach. Also, it would be the best-case scenario for TMS to land the finale.

Sure, having it annually would be nicer, but once every four or five years would be more than welcomed.

But don’t hold your breath. South Florida still has the great racing, err weather.

Stewart update

There was no official word Wednesday on whether Tony Stewart would return to the Sprint Cup Series this weekend for the Oral-B USA 500 on Sunday in Atlanta or sit out his fourth consecutive race.

Stewart has been in seclusion since his car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr., 20, after Ward got out of his wrecked car and was walking down the track during sprint-car race Aug. 9 at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York.

Stewart, who has skipped races at Watkins Glen, N.Y., Michigan International Speedway and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, is on the entry list for the Atlanta race.

Series updates

Sprint Cup: With two races before the Chase, Jeff Gordon is the points leader ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Greg Biffle is the 16th and final driver in at this point with Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne as the first two out.

IndyCar: The series announced a new stop on the 2015 schedule at the NOLA Motorsports Park. The Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana will feature a three-day festival combining the state’s culture of live music, entertainment and local cuisine.

Telling number

483 Laps led by Kurt Busch in the last 10 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway, most of any driver in that span. His brother, Kyle, is second with 417.


“You race every single week to win, and it doesn’t matter if you’re fighting for a spot to get in the Chase or whether you’re just in the Chase and you compete for the championship. I mean, you just race everything single week to win. So even though we’re down to two races, it’s really not any different than it was at the Daytona 500, the first race of the year. The goal is the same every week. You can’t really do anything different just because we’re down to two races.” — Jamie McMurray, who is 21st in the points standings going into Atlanta

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