With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 set for November 20, drivers in NASCAR’s top series made their way to Homestead-Miami Speedway October 18 and 19.
In the testing sessions, teams and their drivers took advantage of two full day’s worth of testing to prepare for November’s championship race. The 11 teams who took part in the tests had the opportunity to gain valuable racing data while experimenting on the Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval.
With just four races to go before the Ford EcoBoost 400, drivers are eager to return to the Speedway for a variety of reasons.
“At this place you drive into the corners and slide right up by the fence. I really feel like I’m driving a race car here. I was just telling my spotter it’s a fun place to drive,” said Carl Edwards, driver of the No.19 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. “My dream is to be in that final four at Homestead-Miami Speedway, to win the race and to be the Sprint Cup Series champion.”
“This is a track that we have been really close at winning at,” said Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Ford Fusion for Team Penske. “The last two races here we finished third both times. I think we have a really great shot at winning the race, so we are really looking forward to doing just that.”
Aside from competing at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Ford EcoBoost 400 championship race, the drivers are also looking forward to coming to Miami for the weather and the family-friendly atmosphere that the Speedway provides.
“NASCAR has always been about family,” said Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing. “267 laps [at Homestead-Miami Speedway] and to watch a championship is what we are all here for. A family can also come and find all types of different activities around the event. Perfect weather usually. The race ends right around nightfall, so you can get back home before it gets too late on that Sunday night and get the kids back to school on Monday.”
“It’s one of the things that makes NASCAR fun,” said Keselowski. “I grew up in the sport watching my dad race at the participant level, but I think you can also look at it at the fan level. I know I have a lot of fans that can say the same that they came to their first race with their dad and they keep coming back. Whether it’s camping across the street or buying tickets in the stands, there’s always been a really strong family element to this sport.”
While some of NASCAR’s biggest drivers in the Sprint Cup Series were testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, two South Florida middle schools were also visiting the track as part of their ‘NASCAR Pasta Challenge: The Science behind NASCAR Racing’ curriculum. The schools that visited were W.R. Thomas Middle School and Zelda Glazer Middle School from Miami.
A total of 43 seventh grade students gathered at the Pit Box, located in Speedway’s infield, to learn about the different sciences of NASCAR that are specific to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. As the drivers made their rounds on the Speedway’s oval, the students learned about the key aerodynamic principles of racing, which includes NASCAR’s Three D’s of Speed — drag, downforce and drafting.
In addition, the students brought in their own miniature cars that they built out of pasta, so they could be judged by Homestead-Miami Speedway’s staff. There were 14 teams that were entered in the competition with each team being judged for the car’s functionality and design.
After the judging competition was over and a winner was announced, David Ragan, driver of the #23 Toyota Camry for BK Racing, met with the students to talk about how he began his career in motorsports. In addition, Ragan explained how his car performed in the day’s testing sessions and about the importance of having different testing opportunities throughout the year.
The visit from the students for NASCAR Testing comes in advance of Ford Championship Weekend, which will be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway November 18-20. Tickets to Ford Championship Weekend can be purchased by calling (866) 409-RACE (7223) or visiting www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.