BUSCH: Homestead ready for season finales

New Variable Banking System- Ford Championship Weekend has arrive, along with the debut of the newly reconfigured 20-degree racing surface. The NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway track reconfiguration project, estimated to cost in excess of $10...

New Variable Banking System- Ford Championship Weekend has arrive, along with the debut of the newly reconfigured 20-degree racing surface. The NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway track reconfiguration project, estimated to cost in excess of $10 million, was designed through advanced computer technology never before available to build a racetrack. The project involved increasing the track's banking to a maximum of 20 degrees in the turns through an innovative variable-degree banking system. With the variable banking system, the degree of banking increases progressively from the bottom to the top of each turn. At the midpoint of each turn, there is 18 degrees banking at the bottom, 19 degrees in the middle and 20 degrees at the top. The variable banking system is designed to create three competitive racing grooves around the track.

End of an Era- After 33 glorious years as title sponsor of NASCAR top series, the R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company with its Winston brand, will be stepping down as series sponsor after the Ford 400 on Sunday. The Ford 400 will be the last race for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, as wireless company Nextel takes over the series sponsorship starting with the season-opening Daytona 500 in February. The series will officially be called the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series beginning with Daytona. NASCAR and Nextel inked a 10-year deal for the sponsorship, worth at total of $700 million.

Kenseth last "Winston" Cup champion- Matt Kenseth clinched the NASCAR Winston Cup points championship with his fourth-place finish Sunday at the North Carolina Speedway. Kenseth made history in becoming the last "Winston" Cup champion in series history. Kenseth will have a formal championship ceremony as 2004 champion immediately following the Ford 400. Wireless company Nextel will take over the title sponsorship of NASCAR's top series starting with the 2004 Daytona 500.

SAFER Barriers- Along with the track reconfiguration project that has increased Homestead-Miami Speedway's banking to 20-degrees, the speedway has installed the SAFER barrier at the facility. The NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway will become the first high-banked track to install the SAFER barriers on the outside retaining walls. The barriers are placed from the entrance of turn one until the exit of turn two and again at the entrance of turn three until the exit of turn four. The SAFER wall technology consists of rectangular steel tubing backed by foam blocks that is installed in front of the track's traditional cement walls. The process consists of ordering the specific materials, bending of the steel tubing to fit the radius of the track's corners, shipment and installation.

Jeff Conine gets behind the wheel- Jeff Conine of the World Champion Marlins and Honorary Race Chairman for the Ford 400, participated in the Richard Petty Driving Experience on Friday November 7 at the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway. "As far as the adrenaline rush, this ranks just behind winning the World Series for sure," said Conine. "What a difference the banking makes. With the old configuration, you had no confidence going into the turns because you felt like you were going to slide right off the track. Now, you're pulling serious G's going into that turn, I felt like I could have gone a lot faster. When the big boys hit the track next week for the Ford 400, it's going to be one incredible show for the fans."

Serena Williams named Honorary Starter for Ford 400- Tennis star Serena Williams will be the honorary starter for Sunday's Ford 400 and will wave the green flag for a history-making race as 33 years of Winston's sponsorship of NASCAR's premier series come to a close with NEXTEL taking over the series sponsorship in 2004. Williams will also greet the stars of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series during pre-race driver introductions. Along with her sister Venus, Serena is credited with raising public awareness of women's tennis and with bringing the sport to a new level of power and athleticism. Williams, 22, currently resides in Palm Beach Gardens, FL and also attended the Art Institute of Florida where she studied fashion design.

Jon Secada to sing National Anthem for Ford 400- Two-time Grammy award-winning recording artist Jon Secada, a South Florida music icon, will perform the National Anthem at the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway prior to the Ford 400 finale for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

Petty and Stewart to honor Winston- Seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Richard Petty, along with the reigning Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart, will honor Winston's final race as title sponsor of NASCAR's top series with a victory lap tribute prior to Sunday's Ford 400. Petty, also the first champion under the 33 years of Winston's sponsorship will ride alongside Stewart as part of a special "Victory Lap" tribute to honor NASCAR Winston Cup Series champions during R.J. Reynolds' 33-year tenure in the sport. The 2003 NASCAR season is the final for Winston's title sponsorship of NASCAR's top division, which they have held since 1971. Stewart will represent "active" NASCAR Winston Cup champions in the "Victory Lap" tribute. He will drive a specially painted No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet alongside the famous #43 Chevrolet driven by the "King" Richard Petty during pre-race ceremonies.

Oldest Living NASCAR driver to participate in pre-race- Buddy Helms, the oldest living driver to run in a sanctioned NASCAR event, will participate in pre-race ceremonies driving his 1946 Hudson Super Six. Helms, 87, and a resident of Davie, Florida, drove his Super Six in the first NASCAR Grand National race in Charlotte, NC, in June of 1949. Later that year, he competed in races in Atlanta, Hillsboro, Martinsville, and North Wilkesboro. He was the head mechanic for Buddy Shuman in the early 1950's where Shuman captured victories in Detroit and Niagara Falls. Helms won the Darlington Southern 500 as a chief mechanic for Buck Baker in 1956 and Speedy Thompson in 1957. He is the oldest living driver that raced on Daytona Beach.

Tight NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points race- The closest, four-way race for the championship in series history heads to the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Nov. 14 Ford 200 with just 39 points separating the final four championship contenders. Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 Orleans Hotel Dodge), who's held the No. 1 spot since Sept. 4, leads Musgrave by 26 points. Travis Kvapil (No. 16 IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet) is 32 off the pace with Dennis Setzer (No 46 ACXIOM/Computer Associates Chevrolet) holding the fourth position 39 points back of Gaughan.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points standings heading into Ford 200:
Brendan Gaughan Leader
Ted Musgrave -26
Travis Kvapil -32
Dennis Setzer -39

Team Players- Up to a quarter of the 36-truck Ford 200 field could be filled by trucks fielded by the four Championship-contending teams. Gaughan's Orleans Racing partner will be Scott Lynch, the 2003 Grand National NASCAR Winston West champion. Ultra Motorsports' two-truck lineup, Musgrave and Andy Houston (No. 2 Team ASE Racing Dodge), will be augmented by three drivers, among them Marty Houston, who'll make his first series start since October 2000. Three-time series champion Jack Sprague will be Kvapil's teammate in a second IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet. Sprague's No. 11 entry won last year's Homestead race in the hands of Ron Hornaday Jr.

Six-way battle for NASCAR Busch Series Championship in Ford 300- The tightest battle in Busch Series history will come to an exciting conclusion in the Ford 300, which will also include a record six drivers battling for the championship in the last race of the NASCAR Busch Series season. Brian Vickers took the lead in the tight Busch Series points race after Scott Riggs, the leader heading into action at the North Carolina Speedway, hit the wall on Lap 161 and finished 38th. David Green moved from fourth to second in the championship race after finishing 10th. Green is 22 points behind Vickers heading to the season final next weekend at Homestead. Ron Hornaday (-39), Jason Keller (-70) and Scott Riggs (-85) round out the top five in the series standings.

NASCAR Busch Series points standing heading into Ford 300:
Brian Vickers Leader
David Green - 22
Ron Hornaday - 39
Jason Keller - 70
Scott Riggs - 85
Bobby Hamilton Jr. - 89

Schrader and Harvick expected in Ford 200- NASCAR Winston Cup stars Kevin Harvick and Ken Schrader are expected to participate in Friday's Ford 200. Harvick is no stranger to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since he competed in the series full-time from 97-99. Harvick won the most recent Craftsman Truck Series event on October 31 at the Phoenix International Raceway in a truck that he also owns. Harvick and Schrader are two of only five drivers that have won races in NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series.

Homestead-Miami Speedway's version of American Idol- Men and Women of all ages are invited to the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway on Tuesday November 11 as the speedway will hold a "Speedway Star" competition at the tracks Chalet Village area. The competition will be held from 1-3 P.M. and the winner will sing the National Anthem prior to the Ford 200, which will be nationally televised on the Speed Channel, and receive four tickets and credentials to the race. Space is limited and entrants must pre-register by calling Diana Bartemeu at 305-230-5026.

Another first- On Monday November 10, the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway will see its first on track laps open to the public when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will hold an all-day open practice session

Hispanic Racing Team looking forward to Ford 300- Mexican Driver Carlos Contreras, NASCAR's first and only Hispanic driver will look to make the field for this Saturday's Ford 300 NASCAR Busch Series race. Also making an appearance at the race will be Mexican superstar Pilar Montenegro, an award winning singer and soap opera star. Montenegro be at the track for the race and her image will be on the car as well. It marks the first time a Latin Superstar adorns a NASCAR vehicle due in part from a sponsorship agreement Scunci, a hair accessory company

Kyle Busch to Make Winston Cup debut- Hendrick Motorsports will field a car for 18-year-old Kyle Busch, as he will attempt to qualify for the Ford 400 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season finale at the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway. In his first-ever Winston Cup event, Busch will drive Hendrick's No. 60 Chevrolet with primary sponsorship from ditech.com, which has backed the Las Vegas native in the ARCA Series and NASCAR Busch Series this year. If he makes the field, Busch, who turned 18 on May 2, will become one of the youngest drivers to start a Winston Cup race in NASCAR's modern era.

Female driver with MS expected to compete in Ford 200- Goody's Dash Series regular Kelly Sutton will attempt to make the field for Friday's Ford 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in the No. 02 COPAXONE Chevrolet. Sutton, a third generation driver as she began her racing career at the age of 10, suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Her racing career was halted at the age of 16 when MS set in and her racing days seemed to be numbered when she was confined to a wheelchair at age 25. Sutton and her family kept battling, and with the right diet, exercise and daily injection of COPAXONE, she resurrected her racing career. At age 31, she finished 8th this season out of 65 drivers in the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series points standings. Along with being a race car driver, Sutton is mother of two and does a number of inspirational speaking engagements each year to help raise awareness for MS.

Kids Day- Monday, November 10 is also Kids Day at the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway as approximately 1000 students from the Miami-Dade Public Schools will visit the track for an interactive field trip. As part of their trip, students will get a special visit from several NASCAR Drivers and crews

Veterans Day Tribute- On Tuesday November 11, the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway will conduct its own Veteran's Day tribute at the track. All military personnel will be admitted free to the day's activities, which will include the NASCAR Busch Series open practice. During the on-track lunch break from 12:00 P.M. until 1:00 P.M., there will be a special tribute to POW/MIA veterans on the track.

Champions in the Community-As a part of its ongoing community involvement in South Florida, Ford Motor Company will conduct a special program called "Champions in the Community" on Tuesday November 11. Several drivers and Ford executives will assist in workshops aimed at safe driving for teenagers and child car seat installation and safety. Involved in the event are NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Dale Jarrett, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Rick Crawford, President of the Ford Division of the Ford Motor Company Steve Lyons, VP of Ford Customer Service Division Fransisco Cordina and Homestead Miami-Speedway President Curtis Gray.

Yet another first- The NASCAR Winston Cup cars will have their first chance to test the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway variable banking system on Wednesday November 12 during their all-day open practice session.

The second annual Ford Championship Weekend RaceFest- This year's event will be held at Las Olas Riverfront in Downtown Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday November 13 from 12:00 P.M until 11:00 P.M. Once again this year, the free-to-the-public street festival will feature NASCAR Winston Cup driver autograph sessions, NASCAR showcars, interactive racing displays, official NASCAR souvenirs, live musical entertainment.

Hot Rods and Reels Charity Fishing Tournament- The second annual Hot Rods and Reels Charity Fishing tournament will take place at the Homestead-Miami Speedway infield lake and begins at 7:30 A.M. with an awards ceremony at 9:00 A.M. The Bass fishing tournament will feature Winston Cup drivers paired with race fans in a charity event on the 18-acre infield lake.

The Pineapple Gala- The Pineapple Gala will be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway's Chalet Village on the night of Friday November 14 and feature Dinner and Dancing along with Live and Silent Auctions. The highlight of the night will be when drivers and local celebrities will be paired with local children and paint portraits that are then auctioned off benefiting the Darrell Gwynn Foundation to Cure Paralysis and the Betty Jane France Pediatric Center, Speediatrics, at Homestead Hospital.

One more first, the Ford 200- The Ford 200 for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on Friday November 14, will be the first race on the newly reconfigured 20-degree banking of the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Kyle Petty Key Lime Charity Motorcycle Ride- On Monday November 17, the Kyle Petty Key Lime Charity Ride will leave Homestead-Miami Speedway at 10:00 A.M. and head for Key West. NASCAR Winston Cup driver Kyle Petty and other special guests will be participating in the ride, which will benefit Petty's Victory Junction Gang Camp and the Betty Jane France Pediatric Center at Homestead Hospital.

-hms-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup , NASCAR XFINITY , NASCAR Truck
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Jason Keller , Kyle Petty , Ken Schrader , Andy Houston , Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Marty Houston , Dennis Setzer , Rick Crawford , David Green , Scott Riggs , Richard Petty , Kelly Sutton , Brendan Gaughan , Brian Vickers , Scott Lynch , Darrell Gwynn , Kyle Busch , Travis Kvapil
Teams Williams , Hendrick Motorsports