Tickets remain for "championship going down to final race"
The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup is on, and early favorite Jimmie Johnson already is feeling the Miami heat. After hoisting the Cup last year during Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnson knows he will have to tame the pressure once again if he wants to pull the repeat at this year's Ford 400 (Nov. 16-18).
"The pressure of the championship at Homestead, you take it into the car with you and you're always worrying about something going wrong," said Johnson, who finished ninth in the finale at Homestead last year en route to his first NEXTEL Cup Championship. "To be able to succeed there last year with all that pressure, that means a lot."
Homestead-Miami Speedway recently hosted South Florida media for the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup video-conference—featuring an exclusive Q&A with drivers who combine to have won six of the last 12 NEXTEL Cup champions. The drivers were broadcast live via satellite from ESPN Zone in New York City's Times Square to Conine's Clubhouse Grille in Hollywood, Fla.
Joining Johnson were four-time Cup winner Jeff Gordon, 2006 Chase runner-up Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards, who entered this year's Chase sitting fourth in the NEXTEL standings while also leading the Busch series.
Together, the drivers share not only half of the last 12 NEXTEL Cup championships but also an affinity for racing on South Florida's Championship Track and the belief that the new 12-person Chase for the NEXTEL Cup -awarding bonus points for wins - will result in one of the tightest NEXTEL Cup championships ever.
"The championship is going down to the final race this year," Gordon predicted. "I love going to Homestead: It's one of our premier races, it's near a great city and it's a fitting end to the season. I can't wait to get down there
"It was a great experience last year," Johnson said, before noting the 2003 reconfiguration of Homestead-Miami Speedway that added 18-to-20 degree variable banking. "What's been done to the racetrack is great, and it's great to have it as the championship track."
Johnson also noted his victory wake-up in Homestead last year the morning following his NEXTEL Cup championship win—which included a 6 a.m. champagne shower, courtesy of his pit crew.
Gordon, who won his last Cup championship in 2001, has not yet bathed in Miami's champagne, but that didn't preclude him from enjoying the South Florida festivities.
"I celebrated with Jimmie at Homestead last year even when I didn't win," Gordon said. "I can't imagine what the celebration would be like if I won there."
TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE for all three races at Homestead-Miami Speedway's 1.5-mile oval Nov. 16-18, as the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series all crown champions under the lights during Ford Championship Weekend. Additional festivities include Ford Racefest—featuring live concerts, interactive exhibits, NASCAR drivers and the NEXTEL Cup trophy on display—the Homestead-Miami Speedway Celebrity Golf Classic, the Hot Rods & Reels fishing tournament and Ford's "Bailando Por La Copa" salsa-dance finals. For NASCAR tickets, please call (866) 409-RACE or visit www.RaceTickets.com. For more information, please visit www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.