Phoenix will be the site of NASCAR's winner-take-all championship races for at least three seasons.
NASCAR announced Tuesday that Phoenix would host the title races for the Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Truck Series once again. The sanctioning body moved the championship races to the Arizona track ahead of the 2020 season after it invested over $150 million into improving the facility.
“It’s an honor to be named the host track for the NASCAR Championship Weekend for a third consecutive season,” Phoenix Raceway president Julie Giese said in a statement. “We have the greatest fans in motorsports and they’ve rallied behind this event, showcasing to the world why the Phoenix metropolitan area and the entire state of Arizona is an elite sports and entertainment destination. We’re looking forward to an incredibly successful event this fall and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to do the same in 2022.”
It's unclear just how many other tracks were realistic options for the "honor" of having the championship races. As one of the few NASCAR tracks located in a climate suitable for racing in November, Phoenix has limited competition for the event.
Homestead-Miami Speedway hosted the finales before Phoenix and was a worthy test for drivers and teams. But once NASCAR moved its final races from that track it seemed unlikely to ever bring them back. Texas Motor Speedway has produced less-than-good racing since it was reconfigured in recent years and the weather can be a little chilly in the Fort Worth area in November. Talladega and Daytona could feasibly host the finale, but there are very good reasons against the wreck-inducing tracks hosting a winner-take-all finale.
Las Vegas would seem like the best realistic option outside of Phoenix at the moment but it — like Texas and Atlanta — is owned by Speedway Motorsports. While Speedway Motorsports and NASCAR work together on scheduling matters, it's not crazy to think that NASCAR wants to keep the final races at a track it owns.
The most likely alternative to Phoenix may not even exist yet. NASCAR has reportedly said it wants to turn the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, into a short track after the 2022 race at the current track. That track — located east of Los Angeles — would offer the big media market NASCAR had in Miami and the climate possible to host a November championship race. And it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see NASCAR have its finale there in the coming years if and when that track is completed.
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