1. Sports

Ask Aric Almirola: How has Homestead fared as NASCAR championship host?

Next year, NASCAR will move its finale away from south Florida, its host since 2002.
Kyle Busch (18) approaches Turn 1 during the NASCAR Cup Series championship auto race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Homestead, Fla. [LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP]
Kyle Busch (18) approaches Turn 1 during the NASCAR Cup Series championship auto race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Homestead, Fla. [LYNNE SLADKY | AP]
Published Nov. 13
Updated Nov. 13

NASCAR’s upcoming schedule changes mean this weekend’s championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be the end of an era.

Homestead has hosted the Cup Series’ final race since 2002. That includes every championship race in the current playoff structure, where the first finisher of the final four contenders wins the series title. Next year, that race will move to Arizona’s ISM Raceway.

RELATED: Ask Aric Almirola: On the end of July 4 NASCAR racing at Daytona

As NASCAR prepares to crown its new champion in south Florida, it’s worth revisiting how Homestead has fared as the final race. The Tampa Bay Times asked Tampa’s Aric Almirola about it in this week’s installment of Ask Aric — a periodic feature where the NASCAR veteran shares his thoughts on racing, the season and his hometown.

Aric Almirola greets fans during driver introductions prior to the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at ISM Raceway, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) [RALPH FRESO | AP]

As NASCAR changes its schedule next year, how do you think Homestead has done as a site for championship weekend?

I think Homestead’s been a great place for championship weekend. The weather’s great, first and foremost. You know me. I obviously am biased going to Florida for championship weekend.

RELATED: How Tampa’s Aric Almirola handles NASCAR’s silly season

But I think the racetrack itself has been a great racetrack, as well, to decide the champion. It’s a mile and a half racetrack, but the asphalt’s kind of worn, so the cars slip and slide around it. There’s a lot of opportunities to pass.

There’s cars that run up against a wall. There’s cars that run in the middle of the race track. You can pull slide jobs on each other. It’s just a really fun, racy style of a mile and a half race track, and I think it’s been a great place to decide a champion.


  1. LSU players celebrate after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Georgia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Atlanta. LSU won 37-10. [JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP]
    “Members of Congress care about college sports. They recognize how important it is to American society."
  2. Boston's David Pastrnak, left, and Washington's Alex Ovechkin were the NHL's top two goal-scorers through Tuesday's games. Both are coming to Tampa this week to face the Lightning at Amalie Arena.
    The Lightning face the NHL’s top two teams Thursday and Saturday
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston had a cast on his injured thumb during the Famous Jameis Jamboree at Raymond James Stadium on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Backup Ryan Griffin is taking first team reps while Winston rests his broken right thumb
  4. Jeff Scott is introduced as the new USF football coach at the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center in Tampa on Wednesday, [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Signs and sound bites indicate the Clemson co-offensive coordinator was the Bulls’ top choice all along
  5. Jeff Scott is introduced as the new USF Bulls head football coach at the University of South Florida Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, December 11, 2019.  [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    In fact, here’s how he did it as a Clemson walk-on in 2001
  6. Florida State Seminoles fans cheer during player intros before the Florida State Seminoles game against the Boise State Broncos at Doak Campbell Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Tallahassee, Florida.  [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The four-star recruit would be a big loss for the Seminoles’ 2020 recruiting class.
  7. A basket of Rawlings baseballs sits on a practice field as Pittsburgh Pirates catchers take batting practice during a baseball spring training workout in Bradenton. [AP file photo, 2015]
    The committee says it found no evidence MLB intentionally altered the baseballs.
  8. A little more than a month into the season, Nature Coast Tech sophomore Kennedy Weissman leads the state in scoring with 41 goals and 92 points, almost double the totals of the next closest player. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The sophomore has a whopping 41 goals so far this season, easily tops of any player in Florida.
  9. Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre has the all-time NFL record for most interceptions thrown in a career. He led the league in interceptions three times. He said this year's interceptions leader, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, has "huge upside." [MATT LUDTKE  |  AP]
    The Pro Football Hall of Famer, and the NFL’s all-time interceptions leader, says Winston might be trying to do too much downfield. He knows from experience.
  10. Largo's Julia Violante (6), center, gets a hug from teammate Sarai Faulkner (17), right, while joining Asti Luff (23), left, and McKenzie Emery (14) at midfield moments after scoring her second goal of the night (2-0) against St. Petersburg on Monday. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    The University of Florida commit is having a banner season on the pitch, but is missing her biggest fan.