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TACH SPECIAL: Homestead-Miami Speedway:The track that crowns champions?

15 November 2000

By David Treffer
Contributing Motorsports Editor
Homestead, FL--Maybe Homestead-Miami International Speedway is becoming the place to crown champions. For the second year in a row the NASCAR Winston Cup series crowned their front running driver at this beautiful South Florida complex.. Last year it was Ford driver Dale Jarrett. This year Pontiac driver Bobby Labonte clinched the championship. Maybe a trend is building.

This also marks the second year that the championship has not been decided on the last lap of the last race. The NASCAR Winston Cup points system is purposefully designed to achieve parity and thereby maintaining the suspense of who will win the championship to the last race.

The last two champions have shown that by finishing consistently in the top ten and avoiding the dreaded DNF (did not finish) is the path to a championship. So far this year Labonte has yet to suffer a DNF. While the Interstate Batteries team had some poor finishes during the 2000 season they never experienced a complete disaster. Out of the 33 of 34 races run so far, Labonte has 23 finishes in the top ten and 18 top-five finishes. That's a great finishing statistic. No other driver, except Jeff Burton, who is in second place, comes close in the statistical breakdown. Burton has 22 Top-ten finishes and 15 Top-five achievements. Ironically, Labonte's teammate, Tony Stewart, will end up winning the most races this year. Further, Stewart will finish in the top ten in the final standings. For the season Stewart will end up either in fourth or fifth place. Not a bad year, but when you examine the full season, it is revealed that Stewart had some poor finishes which prevented him from competing for the championship.

The other driver who must be wondering what he has to do to win another championship is Rusty Wallace. The Miller-Lite Ford driver will end up leading the most laps for the season. However, like Stewart, Wallace had some races that were less than spectacular coupled with four victories. Consistency and Good Luck wins the Winston Cup.

So will NASCAR change the points system? Doubtful. However, if the crowning of the champion begins to occur earlier and earlier NASCAR might be forces to examine the method of awarding.

Editors Note: To view hundreds of hot racing photos and art, visit The Racing Photo Museum and the Visions of Speed Art Gallery.