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 (the Camping World Truck Series, the Xfinity Series, and the Sprint Cup Series) run their last events of the year and officially crown their series champions.
The race weekend takes place at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida, USA. Ford Motor Company is the title sponsor of the entire weekend, including the three races. It begins on Friday night with the Ford EcoBoost 200 Truck Series finale. On Saturday afternoon, the Ford EcoBoost 300 closes the Xfinity Series season. Finally, on Sunday afternoon, the Ford EcoBoost 400 closes out the Chase for the Sprint Cup and the NASCAR season.
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 9/11, was the only one that wasn't actually run as the second-to-last race of the year).
For 2012, Ford has altered the names for each race to promote its EcoBoost engines. The weekend starts with the Ford EcoBoost 200 Truck race run on Friday night, then continues with the Ford EcoBoost 300 for the Xfinity series cars on Saturday afternoon. The Ford EcoBoost 400, the last race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, is run on Sunday and is the final race of the NASCAR season. After each race, an official ceremony is conducted where the 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, an informal ceremony is conducted during the postrace festivities of the clinching race.
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 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. Hamlin fell to second place, 39 points behind Johnson, with his 14th place finish. Harvick finished 3rd in both the race and the points, 41 points behind Johnson. 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.
With his 2011 championship, Stewart also set several milestones. He became the second driver to win the Chase for the Cup multiple times, with the championship being his second since the Chase was founded in 2004. Stewart was also the first driver to win a title other than Johnson since 2005, ending his streak of five consecutive championships. In addition, he became the first driver in the Chase era to win the final race and the championship in the same weekend (Kyle Busch, who clinched the 2009 Nationwide Series championship and won the Ford 300, is the only other driver to do that). Stewart also won the first championship for an owner-driver since Alan Kulwicki won the 1992 Winston Cup Championship driving for AK Racing. (Stewart is majority owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, which he bought into in 2009 after leaving Joe Gibbs Racing.)
Since the debut of Ford Championship Weekend, there have been six occasions where a series points championship was already clinched (which can no longer happen in the Cup Series due to radical changes in the Chase format introduced for 2014). 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, four more Busch/Nationwide drivers (Martin Truex, Jr., Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards), and Brad Keselowski), one Cup driver (Matt Kenseth), 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.
Several drivers have won more than one race held during this weekend. Todd Bodine, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards 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 Ford 200 truck race in 2005 and 2008, while Busch won the Ford 300 in 2009 and 2010, Biffle won the Ford 400 in 2004, 2005, and 2006, and Edwards won the Ford 400 in 2008 and 2010. 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 Ford Championship Weekend during their racing careers. Kasey Kahne won the 2003 Ford 300 and the 2004 Ford 200, Matt Kenseth won the Ford 300 in 2006 and the Ford 400 in 2007, and Kevin Harvick won the 2004 Ford 300 and the 2009 Ford 200. Jeff Gordon won the Miami 300 Nationwide race in his last start in that division in 2000 and the Ford EcoBoost 400 in 2012, however back in 2000 only the Nationwide and Sprint Cup raced that weekend and it wasn't the final race(s) of the season and the Truck race was held earlier in the year.
Television and radio coverage
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 and TNT retained their rights to air the Ford 300 and Ford 400 until 2006, when the ESPN family of networks acquired the rights. ABC aired the Ford 400 from 2007–2009, and ESPN aired the Ford 300 during that same time.
Beginning in 2015, NBC will once again be the home to the Ford 400 and will also carry the Ford 300. Fox Sports 1 retains its rights to the Ford 200.
Ford Championship Weekend race results
Ford (EcoBoost) 200
|Year||Race winner||Team||Craftsman/Camping World Truck Series champion||Team||Notes|
|2002||Ron Hornaday||Xpress Motorsports||Mike Bliss||Xpress Motorsports|
|2003||Bobby Hamilton||Bobby Hamilton Racing||Travis Kvapil||Xpress Motorsports||Kvapil won the championship after NASCAR reviewed 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.|
|2004||Kasey Kahne||Ultra Motorsports||Bobby Hamilton||Bobby Hamilton Racing|
|2005||Todd Bodine||Germain Racing||Ted Musgrave||Ultra Motorsports|
|2006||Mark Martin||Roush Racing||Todd Bodine||Germain Racing||Bodine won Toyota's first NASCAR championship.|
|2007||Johnny Benson||Bill Davis Racing||Ron Hornaday (3)||Kevin Harvick, Inc.||Hornaday had previously won the series championship in 1996 and 1998.|
|2008||Todd Bodine||Germain Racing||Johnny Benson||Bill Davis Racing|
|2009||Kevin Harvick||Kevin Harvick, Inc.||Ron Hornaday (4)||Kevin Harvick, Inc.||Hornaday had clinched the series points title following the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix.|
|2010||Kyle Busch||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Todd Bodine (2)||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,||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Matt Crafton (2)||ThorSport Racing||Crafton becomes first driver in NCWTS history to win consecutive championships.|
Ford (EcoBoost) 300
|Year||Race winner||Team||Busch/Nationwide 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|
|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||Martin Truex, Jr. (2)||Chance 2 Motorsports|
|2006||Matt Kenseth||Roush Racing||Kevin Harvick (2)||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.|
|2008||Carl Edwards||Roush Fenway Racing||Clint Bowyer||Richard Childress Racing|
|2009||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Busch's championship gave Toyota its first Nationwide Series championship.|
|2010||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Brad Keselowski||Penske Racing||Keselowski had clinched the championship after the O'Reilly Challenge at Texas. 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||Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (2)||Roush Fenway Racing|
|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.|
|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. At 18, he became the youngest ever NASCAR champion, surpassing Brian Vickers' 2003 Busch Series title at 20.|
Ford (EcoBoost) 400
|Year||Race winner||Team||Winston/NEXTEL/Sprint Cup champion||Team||Notes|
|2002||Kurt Busch||Roush Racing||Tony Stewart||Joe Gibbs Racing||Stewart's first championship and the final Winston Cup title for Pontiac.|
|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.|
|2004||Greg Biffle||Roush Racing||Kurt Busch||Roush Racing||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.|
|2005||Greg Biffle||Roush Racing||Tony Stewart (2)||Joe Gibbs Racing||Stewart became the first driver to win championships under NASCAR's old points system and in the Chase format. As of 2014, he is the only driver to do this.|
|2006||Greg Biffle||Roush Racing||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Biffle's second win in this race as a non-Chase driver.|
|2007||Matt Kenseth||Roush Fenway Racing||Jimmie Johnson (2)||Hendrick Motorsports|
|2008||Carl Edwards||Roush Fenway Racing||Jimmie Johnson (3)||Hendrick Motorsports||First Sprint Cup champion.|
|2009||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Jimmie Johnson (4)||Hendrick Motorsports||Johnson became the first driver to win more than three consecutive series championships with his win in the Chase.|
|2010||Carl Edwards||Roush Fenway Racing||Jimmie Johnson (5)||Hendrick Motorsports||Johnson joins Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as the only drivers with more than four championships.|
|2011||Tony Stewart||Stewart Haas Racing||Tony Stewart (3)||Stewart Haas Racing||Stewart became the first owner-driver since Alan Kulwicki in 1992 to win a Cup championship. Chase ended in a dead heat between Stewart and Carl Edwards; Stewart was awarded the title based on his five wins versus Edwards' one. First season under NASCAR's current points system.|
|2012||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Brad Keselowski||Penske Championship Racing||Keselowski won Penske's first ever NASCAR Cup championship and was the first Dodge driver since Richard Petty to win the Cup. Last race for Dodge in NASCAR.|
|2013||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Jimmie Johnson (6)||Hendrick Motorsports||Third win at Homestead by a non-Chase driver.|
|2014||Kevin Harvick||Stewart Haas Racing||Kevin Harvick||Stewart Haas Racing||Harvick won the championship by finishing the best among the four qualifiers for the Championship Round of the Chase. The only other drivers eligible to win the Sprint Cup were Ryan Newman, who finished second in the race, Denny Hamlin, who finished seventh, and Joey Logano, who finished sixteenth. Tony Stewart becomes first car owner since Lee Petty to win titles as a driver and as owner of another car.|
- "Standings - NASCAR Sprint Cup Series - NASCAR.com". NASCAR.com. November 22, 2010. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- "2010 Ford 400 - Racing-Reference.info". Racing-Reference.info. November 22, 2010. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Known as the Craftsman Truck Series through 2008.
- Known as the Busch Series through 2007.
- Known as Winston Cup through 2003, then NEXTEL Cup from 2004 through 2007.