Ford Championship Weekend

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Ford Championship Weekend is the name given to the final race weekend of the NASCAR season, where all three of its major series run their last events of the year and officially crown their series champions.[1] The race weekend takes place at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Since 2002, Ford Motor Company has served as title sponsor for the entire weekend's festivities, including the races themselves.

The Ford EcoBoost 200 begins the race weekend on Friday night, with the Camping World Truck Series crowning its champion. The Xfinity Series crowns its champion following the Ford EcoBoost 300, run on Saturday afternoon. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series brings the weekend and the overall season to a close with the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday. As of 2016, each series' event is the final event of their respective playoffs; the Truck and Xfinity Series followed the lead of the Cup Series, whose playoffs has been run since 2004.

History[edit]

The grid at the 2006 Ford 200

After the 2001 NASCAR season came to an end, the organization decided to realign its three major series' schedules so all three of its series ended its season at the same track in the same weekend. Homestead-Miami Speedway had been on the NASCAR schedule since 1995, when the then-Busch Series added it to its schedule as its final race of the season. Between then and 2001, it was the only series that ended its season at the track. Traditionally, the Truck Series had ended its season in the western United States, with Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, and Phoenix International Raceway serving as the location for the finale since the series began racing in 1995. Homestead was added to the schedule in 1996, often serving as an accompanying race to the Indy Racing League's early season stop at the track (the Truck Series and the IRL IndyCar Series have shared race weekends frequently since both series were founded in 1995, but it is not as common as it once was).

After four Busch Series races and three Truck Series races, NASCAR added a Cup Series race at Homestead for the 1999 season. The track was given the penultimate race of the season, which preceded the then-traditional series finale race, Atlanta Motor Speedway's NAPA 500. The Pennzoil 400, as the race was originally known, was run for three years as the scheduled second-to-last Winston Cup event (the 2001 race, where NASCAR was forced to run the New Hampshire 300 on Thanksgiving weekend due to the September 11 attacks, was the only one that wasn't actually run as the second-to-last race of the year).

After each race, an official ceremony is conducted in victory lane where the final points leader in each series is given the trophy for winning the series championship. If a driver has already clinched the series championship entering the race weekend, he will be presented with the trophy following the race but the formal presentation and the theatrics associated with it will not take place until Ford Championship Weekend. For instance, when Matt Kenseth clinched the 2003 Winston Cup Championship one week before the Ford 400 was run, the Winston Cup was presented to him during the postrace festivities at the race where he secured the title, the Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400. NASCAR still conducted the formal ceremony the next week, which Kenseth participated in as he would have had he clinched the title at the event.

After Homestead installed lights after the 2004 season, the scheduling for the races changed. The Ford 200 Truck Series race was moved to Friday night from its Friday afternoon timeslot and has been run there ever since. The start times were adjusted for the Ford 300 and Ford 400 as well, as both races had their start times moved to late afternoon so they could finish under the lights. While the Ford 300 continues to be run in the late afternoon, NASCAR adopted uniform start times for its afternoon and evening Cup Series races for 2010 (except for the Coca-Cola 600) and the start time for the Ford 400 was moved back to 1 PM. The 2011 Ford 400 returned to a late afternoon start.

In the history of Ford Championship Weekend, there have been four occasions where a series points leader has not been able to retain his lead following the race. The first two occurrences happened during the Ford 200 Truck Series race. In 2003, Brendan Gaughan crashed out of the event late, finished 29th, and fell from first to fourth in the standings while Travis Kvapil won the championship. In 2007, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Mike Skinner were separated by 29 points going into the race, but points leader Skinner had a problem with one of his truck's tires and axles and finished 35th. Hornaday finished seventh and won the title by 54 points. In 2010, 46 points separated first place Denny Hamlin, second place Jimmie Johnson, and third place Kevin Harvick in the Sprint Cup standings. At various times in the Ford 400 each driver held the points lead, but in the end Johnson clinched his fifth consecutive Sprint Cup championship by finishing second in the race.[2] Hamlin fell to second place, 39 points behind Johnson, with his 14th-place finish.[2] Harvick finished 3rd in both the race and the points, 41 points behind Johnson.[2] In 2011, Tony Stewart entered the race three points behind Carl Edwards for the Sprint Cup lead. Stewart won the Ford 400 with Edwards finishing second and the points race ended in a tie. However, due to Stewart holding more victories than Edwards over the course of the season (Stewart's win gave him five while Edwards only won once), Stewart won the tiebreaker and became series champion for a third time.

Although this can no longer occur due to rule changes that were added from 2014 to 2016, there have been nine occasions where a series points championship was already clinched. Greg Biffle was the first driver to enter the weekend after having clinched a championship, as he won the 2002 Busch Series championship prior to the Ford 300. Since then, five more Busch/Nationwide drivers (Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, and Chase Elliott), one Cup driver (Matt Kenseth, as mentioned above), and two Truck Series drivers (Ron Hornaday and Todd Bodine) have clinched titles prior to the final race. 2010 marked the first time since Ford Championship Weekend was launched that two of the three major series' championships were clinched prior to the weekend, by virtue of Brad Keselowski clinching his championship with two races to go in the Nationwide Series season and Todd Bodine clinching his with one race to go in the Truck Series season. Bodine's 2010 championship marks the first time in the history of Ford Championship Weekend that the Truck Series championship has been decided prior to the final race in two consecutive years; the Busch/Nationwide/Xfinity Series is the only other series to have that distinction as Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards both clinched their respective series championships before the Ford 300 in 2006 and 2007.

Since the adoption of the current playoff rules by all three series in 2016, points no longer matter in the final outcome. Instead, the top four drivers in the standings after the penultimate race of the season advance to what is referred to as the Championship Round of the playoffs. These drivers, referred to as the Championship 4, compete among themselves for the title and the highest finisher of the four is crowned their respective series champion following the race.

Multiple event winners[edit]

Several drivers have won more than one race held during this weekend. Todd Bodine, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and Matt Kenseth are the only drivers to win the same event more than once, while Busch and Edwards are the only two drivers to win multiple races in the same weekend. Bodine won the Truck race in 2005 and 2008, while Busch won the Nationwide races in 2009 and 2010. Biffle won the Cup race in 2004, 2005, and 2006, Edwards won in 2008 and 2010, and Kenseth won the Ford 300 in 2006 and 2014 and the Ford 400 in 2007. Edwards won the Ford 300 and Ford 400 in 2008 and Busch won the Ford 200 and 300 in 2010. In his two wins Busch accomplished a rare feat in that he clinched multiple owners' championships with his wins. His victory in the Ford 200 won Busch the Truck Series owners' championship for his own team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, while his 13th victory of the season in the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide Series car clinched the series' owners' championship for JGR. (Busch did not win the drivers' championship, as he had not run the full schedule and it had been clinched before the Ford 300 even if he had, but despite only running 28 races his 13 wins helped propel him to a third-place finish in the final standings. It should also be noted that Busch was one of three drivers that season who finished in the top ten without running a full schedule; his teammate Joey Logano finished eighth while only running 25 races and Kevin Harvick finished sixth with only 28 races under his belt. Further, this was the last year that NASCAR allowed drivers to earn points in multiple series as a rule was implemented for 2011 in which a driver had to declare which series he would race in for points, although he could continue to run in other series and accumulate owner points for his team.)

Besides the drivers listed above, several others have won more than one event in the Ford Championship Weekend during their racing careers. Kasey Kahne won the 2003 Ford 300 and the 2004 Ford 200, Jeff Gordon won the Busch race in 2000[3] and the Cup race in 2012; however, back in 2000, only the Cup and Busch Series raced that weekend and it wasn't the final races of the season for the two series. Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch are the only drivers to win all three Ford Championship Weekend events in their racing careers. Harvick won the Ford 300 in 2004, the Ford 200 in 2009, and the Ford EcoBoost 400 in 2014. Kyle Busch won the Ford 200 in 2010 and 2013, the Ford 300 twice in 2009 and 2010, and the Ford EcoBoost 400 in 2015.

Television and radio coverage[edit]

All three races in the weekend are carried nationwide by Motor Racing Network, NASCAR's principal radio carrier. Fox Sports 1 carries the Ford EcoBoost 200 while NBC carries the Ford EcoBoost 300 and the Ford EcoBoost 400. In 2016 and 2017, the Ford EcoBoost 300 aired on NBCSN.

Prior to 2003, ESPN aired the Ford 200 as part of its contract with NASCAR to air the Truck Series. Beginning with the 2003 season, Fox Sports 1's predecessor Speed Channel carried the event.

NBC gained the initial rights to what is now the Ford EcoBoost 400 when it became part of the Cup series schedule in 1999. It was the only race NBC carried during that period.[4] Beginning in 2001, when NBC first became a NASCAR broadcast partner, they aired the 400 while alternating coverage of the 300 with TNT, their cable broadcasting partner, until 2006.

From 2007 until 2015, the ESPN family of networks possessed the rights. ESPN and ABC each aired the Ford 400 during that time while the Ford 300 was carried as part of ESPN's exclusive rights to the Nationwide/Xfinity series.

In 2015, NBC reclaimed the rights to NASCAR Cup and Xfinity coverage, with the Ford EcoBoost 300 and 400 both being broadcast on NBC.[5][6]

Ford Championship Weekend race results[edit]

Ford EcoBoost 200[edit]

Year Race winner Team Series champion Team Notes
2002 Ron Hornaday Jr. Xpress Motorsports Mike Bliss Xpress Motorsports
2003 Bobby Hamilton Bobby Hamilton Racing Travis Kvapil Kvapil won the championship after NASCAR reviewed and upheld a black flag given to Ted Musgrave for attempting to pass Kvapil under caution. Had the penalty been reversed, Musgrave would have been granted a sixth-place finish and won the championship over seventh-place Kvapil.[7]
2004 Kasey Kahne Ultra Motorsports Bobby Hamilton Bobby Hamilton Racing
2005 Todd Bodine Germain Racing Ted Musgrave Ultra Motorsports Musgrave's championship was Dodge's last in the Truck Series; the company pulled out of most NASCAR competition following the 2012 season, by which time the Ram Trucks brand had replaced Dodge's on its line of trucks.
2006 Mark Martin Roush Racing Todd Bodine Germain Racing Bodine won Toyota's first NASCAR championship.
2007 Johnny Benson Jr. Bill Davis Racing Ron Hornaday Jr. Kevin Harvick, Inc. This was Hornaday's third Truck title and his first since 1998.
2008 Todd Bodine Germain Racing Johnny Benson Jr. Bill Davis Racing Last Craftsman Truck Series champion.
2009 Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick, Inc. Ron Hornaday Jr. Kevin Harvick, Inc. Hornaday had clinched the series points title following the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix. First Camping World Truck Series champion.
2010 Kyle Busch Kyle Busch Motorsports Todd Bodine Germain Racing Bodine had clinched the series points title following the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix. Busch won the series owner's championship for his team with his victory.
2011 Johnny Sauter ThorSport Racing Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Dillon became the youngest NASCAR top series champion ever. First season under current NASCAR points system.
2012 Cale Gale Eddie Sharp Racing James Buescher Turner Motorsports
2013 Kyle Busch Kyle Busch Motorsports Matt Crafton ThorSport Racing
2014 Darrell Wallace Jr. Crafton became the first driver in NCWTS history to win consecutive championships.
2015 Matt Crafton ThorSport Racing Erik Jones Kyle Busch Motorsports Jones became the youngest champion in NCWTS history. Last season under normal points format, as the NCWTS adopted a Chase format in 2016.

Chase Results[edit]

Year Race winner Team Series champion Team Championship Runners-Up
2016 William Byron Kyle Busch Motorsports Johnny Sauter GMS Racing Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing
Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Timothy Peters, Red Horse Racing
2017 Chase Briscoe Brad Keselowski Racing Christopher Bell Kyle Busch Motorsports Johnny Sauter, GMS Racing
Austin Cindric, Brad Keselowski Racing
Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing

Ford EcoBoost 300[edit]

Year Race winner Team Series champion Team Notes
2002 Scott Wimmer Bill Davis Racing Greg Biffle Roush Racing Biffle had clinched the series points championship following the Bashas' Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix.
2003 Kasey Kahne Akins Motorsports Brian Vickers Hendrick Motorsports Vickers, at the time, was the youngest driver to win the series championship at 20 years old.
2004 Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick, Inc. Martin Truex Jr. Chance 2 Motorsports Truex had clinched the series championship following the BI-LO 200 at Darlington.
2005 Ryan Newman Penske Racing
2006 Matt Kenseth Roush Racing Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick, Inc./Richard Childress Racing Harvick had clinched the series championship following the Dollar General 300 at Charlotte. He had previously won the series championship in 2001.
2007 Jeff Burton Richard Childress Racing Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing Edwards had clinched the series championship following the O'Reilly Challenge at Texas. Last Busch Series champion.
2008 Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing Clint Bowyer Richard Childress Racing First Nationwide Series Champion.
2009 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Busch's championship was the first for Toyota in Nationwide Series.
2010 Brad Keselowski Penske Racing Keselowski had clinched the championship after the O'Reilly Challenge at Texas. This marked the first Nationwide Series championship for Dodge and would prove to be their only championship in the series. This was also the last year that Sprint Cup Series drivers could compete in multiple series and earn points.
2011 Brad Keselowski Penske Racing Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing First season under current NASCAR points system.
2012 Regan Smith JR Motorsports
2013 Brad Keselowski Penske Racing Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Dillon made history by becoming the first driver to win the championship without winning a race.[8]
2014 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Chase Elliott JR Motorsports Elliott had clinched the championship following the DAV 200 at Phoenix, making him the first driver to do so under the current points format. He broke Brian Vickers' record for youngest series champion and Austin Dillon's record for youngest ever NASCAR champion by winning title at age 18.[9] Last Nationwide Series champion.
2015 Kyle Larson HScott Motorsports Chris Buescher Roush Fenway Racing First Xfinity Series champion. Last season under normal points system; the Xfinity Series adopted a Chase system in 2016.

Chase results[edit]

Year Race winner Team Series champion Team Championship Runners-Up
2016 Daniel Suárez Joe Gibbs Racing Daniel Suárez Joe Gibbs Racing Elliott Sadler, JR Motorsports
Justin Allgaier, JR Motorsports
Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing
2017 Cole Custer Stewart Haas Racing William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Elliott Sadler, JR Motorsports
Justin Allgaier, JR Motorsports
Daniel Hemric, Richard Childress Racing

Ford EcoBoost 400[edit]

Year Race winner Team Series champion Team Notes Report
2002 Kurt Busch Roush Racing Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing Stewart's first championship and the final Winston Cup title for Pontiac as they pulled out of NASCAR following the 2003 season. Report
2003 Bobby Labonte Joe Gibbs Racing Matt Kenseth Roush Racing Kenseth clinched the Winston Cup championship at the Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at Rockingham. Last season under previous points format, last Winston Cup champion. Labonte's last win as a full-time Cup Series driver. Report
2004 Greg Biffle Roush Racing Kurt Busch Busch won the first Chase for the Nextel Cup. Biffle was the second of two drivers outside the Chase to win a Chase race in 2004. Report
2005 Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing Stewart became the first driver to win championships under NASCAR's old points system and in the Chase format and is the only driver to do this as of the beginning of the 2016 season. Report
2006 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Biffle's second win in this race as a non-Chase driver. Report
2007 Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Racing Last Nextel Cup champion. Report
2008 Carl Edwards First Sprint Cup champion. Report
2009 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Johnson became the first driver to win more than three consecutive series championships with his win in the Chase. Report
2010 Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing Johnson joined Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as the only drivers with more than four championships. Report
2011 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Stewart became the first owner-driver since Alan Kulwicki in 1992 to win a Cup championship. Stewart finished one position in front of Carl Edwards, who entered the race as the points leader, and thus tied Edwards in the final standings. However, due to his five victories to Edwards' single victory, Stewart won the Sprint Cup on a tiebreaker.[10] Report
2012 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Brad Keselowski Penske Racing Keselowski won Penske's first ever NASCAR Cup championship and was the first Dodge driver since Richard Petty to win the Cup. This race marked the end of Dodge's return to full-time NASCAR racing after twelve seasons; Keselowski's title was their only Cup series championship in that span.[11] Report
2013 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Third win at Homestead by a non-Chase driver. Report

Championship Round results[edit]

Year Race winner Team Series champion Team Championship Runners-Up
2014 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing
Joey Logano, Team Penske
Report
2015 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports
Report
2016 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports (7) Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing
Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing
Joey Logano, Team Penske
Report
2017 Martin Truex, Jr. Furniture Row Racing Martin Truex, Jr. Furniture Row Racing (first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion) Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske
Report
  • 2014: Team owner Tony Stewart becomes the second owner-driver after Lee Petty to win championships as both a driver and an owner with Harvick's championship.
  • 2015: Jeff Gordon retired from full-time competition following the race after twenty-three seasons. Kyle Busch wins Toyota's first Cup Series championship.
  • 2016: Jimmie Johnson ties Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt with his seventh series championship.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bruce, Kenny (June 15, 2014). "FORD CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND SPONSORSHIP EXTENDED". NASCAR. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "2010 Ford 400". Racing-Reference.info. November 22, 2010. Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  3. ^ "The spoiler". CNN Sports Illustrated. November 11, 2000. Archived from the original on June 26, 2001. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Homestead Brian Williams in the Booth". Motorsport.com. August 4, 1999. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  5. ^ "2015 Sprint Cup Series Schedule" (PDF). NASCAR. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  6. ^ "2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series Schedule". Autoweek. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  7. ^ Associated Press (November 15, 2003). "Black flag costs Musgrave, helps Kvapil win truck title". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  8. ^ Estrada, Chris (November 16, 2013). "Austin Dillon claims NASCAR Nationwide Series title with 12th place finish". NBC Sports. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  9. ^ Ryan, Nate (November 8, 2014). "Chase Elliott clinches Nationwide championship, makes history". USA Today. Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
  10. ^ Sporting News (November 21, 2011). "HOMESTEAD COMEBACK COMPLETE CHASE COMEBACK FOR CHAMPION STEWART". NASCAR. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  11. ^ Newton, David (January 18, 2013). "Dodge not expected back soon". ESPN. Retrieved October 20, 2015.