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Phoenix Shouldn’t Host Another Race Besides the Championship

Cup Series pack racing at Phoenix, NKP

With the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Cup Series heading to Phoenix Raceway this weekend, it gives teams an opportunity to figure out which setups work and which won’t. And this weekend is crucial to figure out setups, as if teams find one that works, they can use that same setup when they return to the track in November for the championship race.

While it’s impossible to tell this early in the season who could be a part of the Championship 4 in either series, it raises a question that has probably been asked in prior seasons: Should Phoenix be hosting another race if it’s the site of championship weekend?


Back when Championship Weekend was at Homestead-Miami Speedway, part of the appeal of the race was the fact that the only data that teams could work off of for the race was from the previous year, not a race earlier in the season. Veteran drivers wouldn’t know how to race rookies on the track because it would be the first time a rookie raced the track in the Cup Series. There was really no previous setup from earlier in the season that the teams could go to either; the best possible solution was to run the closest 1.5-mile setup that matched the way Homestead runs.

In recent years, when Phoenix took over Championship Weekend, the approach to the weekend changed, especially for the Championship 4. There were now setups from earlier in the season that the team could run, especially if it helped them to a good finish in the spring race. On top of that, any driver who is good in the spring race is carrying some form of confidence and momentum into the championship race, which might mean they sail away with a Phoenix sweep and the title.

Here’s the point: Phoenix should not host a second race weekend if it is going to host the Championship Weekend.

When Phoenix took over Championship Weekend, it should have been immediately rendered NASCAR’s version of a “neutral site,” similar to Homestead. Aside from the MLB, NBA and NHL, almost every other American professional (and even collegiate) sport utilizes a neutral site for its championship game/series, and NASCAR used to be that way when Homestead was the season finale.

Right about now is where the comments will be filled with something along the lines of, “NASCAR isn’t a stick-and-ball sport,” to which I agree. But the idea of letting drivers experience a track that will then play host to a championship race seems a little unfair, and is begging for…

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