Ever since the release of the 2020 schedule took place, with all the shifting of races and new experiences for the sport, the only thing I had to wonder about is Phoenix.
Not that it’s a bad track nor the fans are not great, because it’s one of the more unique facilities in the sport that drivers can race on, and even after the reconfiguration it made it one of the most challenging tracks to run on. What made me wonder is that this facility is now the home of the championship weekend for the sport. It just doesn’t seem to have the same excitement as Miami did.
To me, Miami was an absolute perfect backdrop to finish out the year, with a very fun and competitive track that also allowed the fans to literally see everything from the outside wall on the front stretch all the way to the palm trees outside the backstretch.
Hearing “Ford Championship Weekend,” you didn’t even need to hear where it was being held. It was almost understood and it was a moment when a sold-out crowd came out to see champions crowned.
It’s a place where we went from seeing a Chase to a playoff, and a winner-take-all finale.
Ever since the playoff format was introduced back in 2014, the race winner was also crowned the champion of the sport, and only one man can say they were able to do so on two occasions. One driver can even claim they won the championship on seven occasions, in all Chase/Playoff formats at that one speedway.
Now we go to Phoenix to end the year, and literally there is no guarantee that the final four in the playoffs will be title contenders. Already this year through three races, we have three positions locked up for those playoffs. Heading into today, we know who can run well at this track, but others are trying their hardest to get better.
This is going to make the race today very interesting, and could make for quite the race, since those that are good here will be going after the win. Others that may already be locked into the NASCAR Playoffs, they are going to use this as a way to prepare for that race so that they can potentially win a championship. This could be the one advantage to having the season finale track also host a regular season event.
We shall soon find out, because they are dusting off the “Jewel of the Desert” for the final leg of the west coast run this afternoon.