Wednesday, October 30, 2019


To become a NASCAR driver, it takes skill at the amateur levels and racing at small, local tracks across the country to make it to the premier series. As we see other sports interact with their little league counterparts, Homestead-Miami Speedway envisions similar criteria by visiting these tracks where amateurs race.

Most NASCAR legends like Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt began their careers at local tracks around the country. Whether it was an asphalt or dirt tracks, superstars have come from different types of grassroots racing.

NASCAR on NBC began to focus on a grassroots racing tour campaign throughout the season. It emphasizes on NASCAR race tracks and drivers rebuilding relationships with local tracks around the country.

NBC aired a few episodes of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers visiting the tracks they grew up racing. For instance, Erik Jones grew up in Michigan and headed back to Owasso Speedway in his home state.

As we approach Ford Championship Weekend, Homestead-Miami Speedway is preparing to host what may be the biggest championship weekend in their history. This marks the 18 straight season that the 1.5-mile track hosts the glorious event.

Making a presence at the local tracks in the state of Florida exposes Ford Championship Weekend and the track itself. This makes an impact on not only the Speedway but the fans that spend their Saturday nights watching grassroots racing. You can sort of compare it to a major league team visiting a little league game.

Homestead-Miami Speedway visited Hendry County Motorsports Park in late September. The dirt track in Clewiston, Florida is the closest dirt track to the Speedway and hosts various events throughout the year.

Over the weekend, Homestead-Miami Speedway spent time at 417-Southern Speedway. The short asphalt track is where NASCAR driver Ross Chastain raced growing up. Chastain expressed how the competition in racing has always been fierce and described what it’s been like to make it to NASCAR’s top-three series coming from Southwest Florida.

“When I was racing at 417-Southern Speedway a lot of the drivers didn’t like me and I’ve had to learn to race with a little bit of couth I guess, where I pick and choose my battles a little wiser these days,” Chastain said. “When the time comes you just have to go race and whatever happens, happens. I had good support growing up here but there were nights people booed me and I’ve still had that occasionally in NASCAR but luckily a few of the big item incidents have swung my way on the fan side.”

For Chastain, his road to NASCAR hasn’t been as smooth compared to other drivers in the sport. Racing for different teams throughout his career, Chastain continues to stay busy racing in all three series. The Alva, Florida native is currently in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs with Niece Motorsports.

The ties between Homestead-Miami Speedway and the local tracks across the state will only grow stronger. As the speedway now shifts to a new race date in 2020 (March 20-22), they will continue to make a presence throughout the winter at the local tracks.

Monday, October 28, 2019


Martin Truex Jr. dominated Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway locking himself into the Championship 4. The Mayetta, New Jersey native won every stage of the event and led 464 laps. Most importantly, the 2017 champion will be appearing in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the fourth time in his career.

“I can’t believe we just won Martinsville, man,” Truex said after his win at Martinsville. “Miami (site of the season finale) is awesome, but we’ve wanted to win here for a long time.”

William Byron finished .489 seconds behind what could have been his first victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Although the non-playoff driver did not lead any laps, he ran well in the top-10 all day and showed during the conclusion of the race that he may have had the second-best car.

“He was really strong,” said Byron, who was referring to Truex’s domination. “I could work my brake bias a little bit in the car and gain a little bit, and then I’d get to him and I’d heat up a lot and then kind of fall back. I don’t really know. He was super strong. Our car bounced a little bit in the short run, which was tough to kind of get around. But overall, it was a really good day.”

Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott started off the day looking strong. Suffering a broken axle while leaving pit road on Lap 179, Elliott began in the rear of the field due to an engine change earlier that weekend. He drove the No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevy Camaro to the top-10 before the mechanical issue.

“Just disappointing for a day like that,” Elliott said. “We know better, and we can do better than that.”

Playoff contenders Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin had a post-race scuffle at the end. On Lap 458, both were coming off of Turn 4 and Logano was pushed up against the wall by Hamlin. The No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang suffered right-side damage resulting in a cut tire.

"I just wanted to talk to him about [the on-track incident]. I was pretty frustrated. He kind of came off the corner like he didn't have a car on the outside of him. It ruined our day. We had a shot at the win for sure," Logano said.

After spinning on Lap 460, Logano was able to finish in 8th while Hamlin brought home his No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry in the fourth position. The second Team Penske driver in the playoffs is Ryan Blaney, who had a strong car all day and finished in the sixth position.

Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick didn’t have the speed many expected him to have at the Virginia short track. Placing outside of the top-10 in the first two stages, Harvick was able to top that off with a seventh-place finish.

Another driver that struggled the majority of the race was Kyle Larson. Larson raced most of the day in the top-20 but at the end of Stage 2 crew chief Chad Johnston decided to have him not pit during the caution and placed second at the end of the segment. He ultimately finished ninth but sits outside the top-four 15 points behind the cutline.

The other Kyle in the field finished in the 14th position. Kyle Busch was battling Aric Almirola in the top-10 on Lap 361 when they both got into each other in different corners. Almirola displayed his frustration after the race while Busch was also upset about how the event turned out.

"We've got three more weeks, and I'm going to make it hell for him," Almirola said postrace.

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 3 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. It is the eighth race of the 10-race playoffs and the second race in the Round of 8. It starts at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Here are the standings going into Texas:

Monday, October 21, 2019


Denny Hamlin drove his No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry to victory lane for the fifth time this season adding momentum to his championship hunt by capturing a victory in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. The Chesterfield, Virginia native led 153 laps and won his second race at Kansas.

“This is a great feeling,” said Hamlin. “That car was awesome to dominate that whole second half. I have to thank everybody who pushed me on the restarts, Kyle (Busch), the 9 (Elliott) at the end. Good to see him make it by points anyway. But, hey, I’m just really happy for this whole FedEx team. It’s been great. Been running really good. Cannot wait to get to Martinsville Speedway (next Sunday’s Round of 8 opener).”

The early portion of the race displayed hard racing and Kyle Larson, who was locked into the Round of 8 after winning at Dover International Speedway, dominated the first stage. Although he had control of Stage 1, Larson lost the lead and Joey Logano won the first stage.

Race winner Hamlin would go on to win Stage 2 as the playoff bubble began to heat up. Team Penske drivers Logano and Brad Keselowski were both a part of the late-race bubble drama with Chase Elliott.

Going into the race, Elliott was ninth in points, outside of the cutline, while Logano and Keselowski were just ahead of him. Keselowski battled with a bad handling race car throughout the whole day and fell a lap down after pitting on Lap 216. He was able to obtain the free pass after a caution for debris on Lap 254.

But for the Michigan native, the race didn’t get any easier. While Keselowski restarted 19th in the late-race caution, Elliott was able to pit and grab four fresh tires and restart in seventh. Elliott was able to drive up to second until a caution came out with two laps to go.

Keselowski was able to pit before restarting 15th in the first of two overtimes. Driving up to 13th and three points ahead of Elliott, his teammate Logano would be involved in an accident resulting in another caution. At this point, both Team Penske drivers were at risk of elimination.

Unfortunately for Keselowski, he would restart 13th and lose multiple positions while Elliott placed second and moved on to the Round of 8 ahead of the 2012 champion. Logano was able to limp his torn-up race car to the 19th position and lock himself into the next round.  

"We needed every point we could get, and it looked like we were in a good spot,” Logano said. “Next thing you know they are wrecking on the outside and I get hit and I am going through the grass. I felt comfortable before that. This was a hard fought and blue-collar round for sure. On to the next round."

Other notable drivers that failed to qualify into the Round of 8 were the remaining Hendrick Motorsports drivers, Alex Bowman, William Byron, and the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang of Clint Bowyer.

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the First Data 500 on Sunday, Oct. 27 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. The race begins at 3:00 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Here are the standings going into Martinsville:

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


0.007 seconds, that’s how close the finish was to Monday’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Ryan Blaney edged Ryan Newman for the win and locked himself into the Round of 8.

The rain-delayed thriller was filled with competitive racing throughout both days and plenty of carnage. Blaney experienced some of that adversity on Sunday when he spun onto pit road during Stage 1.

Blaney’s example demonstrated how Talladega can play out. Avoiding big wrecks and being at the right place at the right time led the Team Penske driver to capture the third victory of his career. Also, support at the end from Ford Performance teammate Aric Almirola helped him clinch his spot into the next round of the playoffs.

“Yeah, it was an amazing effort the last two days, to be honest with you,” said Blaney. “We spun out early yesterday and missed some big ones today. We were able to weave our way through. I can’t thank Aric Almirola enough for helping me out there at the end.”

Newman took the lead from Blaney on the final lap. Heading into the front straightaway, Blaney was able to dive under Newman’s car and side draft him to grab the win. The Roush Fenway Racing driver was a blink of an eye away from capturing his first win since 2017.

“We just came up that little bit short,” Newman said. “I don’t know what else to say. I could have pinched him some more. I probably could have taken the air. You can go back and bench-race that three weeks from now. It was good racing to the end.”

The biggest takeaway from this race was the playoff implications most drivers faced. All 12 drivers had an in-race incident at some point in the race and some left Talladega facing a must-win scenario at Kansas Speedway next weekend.

The biggest losers after the 500 were the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets. Although it seemed like the Chevy’s were going to have a plan after the end of Stage 1 when they had an unscheduled meeting with the manufacturer, all of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers had some sort of an issue.

Chase Elliott was able to overcome a multi-car accident at the end of Stage 2 and finish the eight. He was the highest placing playoff Chevy to finish but still sees himself beneath the cutline heading into Kansas.

Bowman attempted a block on Joey Logano and caused one of the “Big Ones” that included playoff drivers Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, and Brad Keselowski.

“I threw a block that I shouldn’t have blocked,” Bowman said. “I knew the 22 was coming and just tried to move down just a little bit. As soon as he touched me it just turned us sideways and it went from there. He had a bigger run than I realized.”

Logano would be involved in another incident later on in the race but was able to bring his No. 22 Ford Mustang home in the 11th position. The Connecticut native is only 18 points above the cutoff line.

Clint Bowyer sits at the bottom of the table after blowing a tire and getting stuck in the apron. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver now faces a must-win situation heading into his home track of Kansas.

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, Oct. 20 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The race begins at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Here are the standings going into Dover:

Thursday, October 10, 2019


It’s Hispanic Heritage Month, the ties between Latinos and NASCAR are only growing. NASCAR attracts fans from all backgrounds and we see that more in the sport as time goes on.

This is evident from the race track side, where we saw Cuban-born Ralph Sanchez build his dream track of Homestead-Miami Speedway, to the driver side where we saw Mexican-born driver Daniel Suarez win his first NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship in 2017.

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program is an essential example of the growth in diversity in our sport. We’ve seen drivers like Suarez, Bubba Wallace, and Kyle Larson succeed and run in NASCAR’s top series. At the end of the day, the goal of all the drivers in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program is to reach the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

A driver that is currently a part of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program and has been making his name known in the sport is Miami’s own, Nick Sanchez. Sanchez is from Cuban descent and began racing karts at Homestead-Miami Speedway at age 12.

The 18-year-old began seeking other racing opportunities after a few years of racing karts in the state of Florida. He applied for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity legends car program and was given the opportunity to run the Bojangles Summer Shootout in 2017 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The Miami native is unlike many drivers trying to make it in the stock car racing world. Sanchez fell in love with racing on his own as his family had very little interest in racing while he was growing up.

“No influence from my family at all,” Sanchez said. “My dad works in construction and my mom is an account executive so they have nothing to do with racing. My dad has always been into classic cars and being raised around classic cars whether it is a Corvette or Cobra you just love anything with an engine, I guess that had an influence.”

Sanchez was fortunate enough to run in the 2019 NASCAR Whelen-All American Series. He picked up wins at Myrtle Beach Speedway and at the season finale at Langley Speedway in Virginia.

“It’s been an awesome season,” Sanchez said. “We’ve actually raced at about five tracks. So, we’ve had a vast majority of differences in the tracks and it definitely helps an overall driver and has helped me as a driver improve being exposed to different types of surfaces and tracks and different characteristics.”

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program opened his doors to diversify his racing ethics. Having success running karts on road courses has transferred over to different tracks across the southern region.

“They’ve been an amazing help and without them, I wouldn’t have been exposed to the stock car world,” Sanchez said. “I’m used to road coarse karting and the Formula car aspect and I never really knew what a late model, legend car, or even K&N car was growing up and then knowing about this program and hearing from people around to eventually applying led me to this end and my new found love of NASCAR.”

His appreciation of NASCAR and gaining experience in stock cars continues assisting Sanchez to climb the ladder in racing. He hopes for the 2020 campaign that he can obtain an opportunity in one of the ARCA Menards Series.

Furthermore, this young Hispanic driver that is trying to make it in the sport is grateful for the opportunity he has been given in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program. “I’d like to thank Max Siegel for allowing me to drive his race cars and believing in me,” Sanchez said.

Monday, October 7, 2019


Kyle Larson led 154 laps and went on to win the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway this past Sunday. The Elk Grove, California native snapped a two-year drought since his last win and locked himself into the Round of 8 for the first time in his career.

He became the first Chip Ganassi Racing driver to reach the Round of 8 and captured his first victory at Dover where he had placed in the top-five six times in his career.

“To win a playoff race, my first playoff victory is special,” Larson said after his win. “I hope there's another win in our future, especially in the next round. We'll see what we can do. I've kept saying that I felt really close to winning here or anywhere right now. Our pit crew has been doing a better job, our team has been doing a better job. I've been doing a better job. So just gotta keep it going now.”

The 27-year-old expressed that he is worry-free heading into Talladega Superspeedway next weekend and can solely begin to focus on the next round of the playoffs. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin led the most laps of the event (218 laps) and went on to finish fifth.

The No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry driver dominated the early portions of the race. With 130 laps to go, Hamilin advised his team that he was having engine issues. Despite his concern, he was still the fastest car on the mile oval.

The runner-up Martin Truex Jr. seemed to be the second-best car toward the end of the race. After finishing first at the conclusion of Stage 2, Truex lost the lead to Larson on pit road and fell short of catching him at the end of the race.

“We were catching him at the end, got close, just unfortunate there,’’ Truex said. “We win and lose as a team and the guys will clean it up for sure. Every week is about getting most points you can, so a positive day for us.’’

The top-six finishers were made up of playoff drivers which included Hamlin, Alex Bowman, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch. For some championship contenders there were problems early on in the race.

Joey Logano faced mechanical issues as the green flag was set to wave and didn’t even begin the race. The defending champion fell short 23 laps as he played catch up all afternoon and finished in the 34th position.

“We used the playoff points we accumulated; we just have to be perfect now,” Logano said. “We have two really good racetracks coming up, though: Talladega is arguably one of our best racetracks, and I would say Kansas is as well. We just have to be perfect from here.”

Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney finished 35th while running in the top-10 most of the day. Due to a brake issue, the team was forced to take the car to the garage. Last week's winner Chase Elliott was another driver that faced adversity during the race. With less than 10 laps into the race, the No. 24 Hooters Chevy Camaro had an engine failure. Elliott now sits 11th in the playoff standing and 22 points behind the cutline.

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the 500 on Sunday, Oct. 13 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. It is second race in the Round of 12. Coverage starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Here are the standings going into Dover:


From a sold-out crowd at the Grand Opening on November 3, 1995, to 18 consecutive years of the Ford Championship Weekend, we take a look at the impact that both Ralph Sanchez and Al Garcia have made on motorsports in South Florida during this year's Hispanic Heritage Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the country's history, heritage, and culture. If it weren’t for them, the Speedway wouldn’t be where it is today.

Sanchez, a Cuban-born businessman, came to America aboard a freedom flight from Havana to Miami. After arriving in Miami, he lived with his aunt and uncle, later residing in a Catholic orphanage until he turned 18. Sanchez earned an accounting degree from Florida Atlantic University, became a real estate salesman, before moving on to become a land developer, and then a motorsports enthusiast. He had a vision of changing the way South Florida viewed motorsports, beginning with the Grand Prix of Miami and eventually Homestead-Miami Speedway. Because of him, Homestead-Miami Speedway was a major facilitator in the revitalization of Homestead after Hurricane Andrew wiped out the town. Since then, amazing things have happened. It was Ralph who changed the way South Florida saw motorsports.

Current track president Al Garcia is an original employee of Homestead-Miami Speedway and got his start in motorsports because of Ralph. He grew up in Miami and began working for Sanchez in 1985, where his career started with the Miami Grand Prix. Through the tragedy of the hurricane, Garcia had a big hand in helping to rebuild Homestead. Since then, he has continued to give years of dedication to the track and community of Homestead. 

From the words of Al Garcia himself: “I am very proud to have known Ralph and to have worked alongside him.”

Gracias por todo, Ralph y Al!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


Fans coming to Homestead-Miami Speedway can now enjoy the same amenities as they would visiting South Beach. Access passes to Homestead-Miami Speedway’s Infield Beach Party are on sale beginning today.

NASCAR’s first ever Infield Beach Party, which is open to guests ages 18 and over, is located on a 20,000 square-foot beach located in the Speedway’s infield, inside of Turn 3. The beach sits on the spring-fed 7-acre lake that spans the width of the backstretch.

The beach includes a floating dock, palm trees and a swimming area. The Infield Beach Party is about more than just relaxing in the sand, as attendees will be treated to an exclusive experience that includes live entertainment, including an appearance by Miami’s own DJ Irie, unique food and beverage options, beach and water activities, and much more.

The Infield Beach Party will debut during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 championship race on Sunday, November 17. Access to the Infield Beach Party starts at $40.

Tickets for 2019 Ford Championship Weekend, which consists of the Ford EcoBoost 200 (NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship race), Ford EcoBoost 300 (NASCAR XFINITY Series championship race) and Ford EcoBoost 400 (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship race), are now available and can be purchased by calling (866) 409-RACE (7223) or visiting