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via Imago

via Imago

When NASCAR debuted the new short-track package at Phoenix Raceway, fans were eager to know if it would, in turn, help the Championship 4 race get better. But after a rather lackluster race when compared to some of the other thrillers we’ve gotten, insiders such as Jordan Bianchi and Jeff Gluck questioned NASCAR’s plans for the title decider in the future.

For many, the mantra ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ still holds. Instead of continuing with Phoenix in 2026 and beyond, an overwhelming number of fans have been pressuring the sport to give the race back to Homestead-Miami Speedway. With that being said, news of a wet-weather tire test ramped up the community’s demands.

Is NASCAR preparing for the Championship 4’s return to Homestead, Miami?

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Back in 2020, NASCAR faced a major dilemma surrounding declining viewership numbers for the Cup Series, including the Championship 4 round. Add to that a reluctance from the state of Miami to improve facilities at Homestead-Miami, and the sport had a clear alternative. Phoenix Raceway had slowly become a fan favorite over the years, making it the perfect venue for some experimentation.

However, that all changed in 2022, as the Next-Gen car revealed its downsides on short tracks. Despite a major investment of $178 million in renovations, this flaw in the car unraveled NASCAR’s plans for the short track. Over the following years, Phoenix has delivered rather lackluster racing compared to the previous rounds at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

It’s no secret that the Next-Gen car has struggled with the short-track package for a while now. With many drivers highlighting the issues with excessive downforce and inadequate power, teams have tried their best on the aerodynamic front to improve things. That said, a crucial test that NASCAR aims to conduct at HMS for the wet-weather tire could mean that the track is being put through its paces for a return in 2026.

Taking to X, veteran insider Bob Pockrass stated, “NASCAR will do a wet-weather tire test at Homestead in mid-September. Update: NASCAR says that does not mean it intends to use them this year, but testing the technology on the bigger tracks.” This prompted a few fans to share their wishful thinking with Pockrass, inquiring if the championship finale was finally going back to HMS.

Despite confirming that Phoenix Raceway has the championship for the 2025 season, Pockrass highlighted a revelation made by The Athletic, which gave fans hope. He stated, “Homestead officials passed a resolution last month (as reported by The Athletic) where they want to put together a bid with county and state sports commissions for the 2026 NASCAR championship weekend.” 

After looking at the interest NASCAR is taking in wet-weather tests at HMS paired with the officials’ willingness to get back the Championship 4, fans took to X to share their optimistic desires.

Fans sideline Phoenix Raceway’s crowd turnout to favor Homestead Miami

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With Bob Pockrass highlighting the HMS officials’ interest, fans were delighted by the progress being made. For many, the Championship 4 race still belonged at the 1.5-mile intermediate track. Despite its total construction cost of $70 million, which is nearly half of what Phoenix spent on renovations, HMS turned out to be the fan favorite once again.

One user shared encouragement for the ongoing conversations: “Yes!! Please someone with NASCAR exercise some common sense and put championship weekend back in Homestead where it belongs.” Another fan highlighted a major dilemma drivers have been facing at Phoenix. They stated, “Homestead is a weird track too, but it’s not as weird as Phoenix. Don’t decide the championship at a gimmick track. It was crazy that they ever thought that was a viable option.” 

Although Phoenix Raceway had an advantage in terms of viewership numbers and in-person attendance, that might not last for long. Two users who had flown to HMS and Phoenix for the championship races seemed to arrive at the same conclusion. One fan stated, “I’ve made the trip to Homestead twice for Championship weekend. I’d go back. Not going to Phoenix for a bad race,” as the other chimed in, “I’ve been to Phoenix the last three years for the championship… Please please please let Homestead have it back.😂” 

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With that being said, users felt the need to highlight that it wasn’t a return to HMS that was the priority. For many, there were several tracks more suited to host the finale than Phoenix Raceway. A user shared their suggestion; “Let’s pass a resolution to where the championship weekend moves around each year!”. This prompted another user to recall Denny Hamlin’s take – “How about rotate the championship race or have a championship 3 race round like Hamlin had mentioned awhile back.”

With the NASCAR community turning up the pressure on officials to make a switch for the Finale, do you think Phoenix Raceway will continue to hold rights to the Championship 4 round after 2025?