Phoenix Raceway Preparing to Host Championship Weekend

Preparations for Championship Weekend have been underway for months. NASCAR and Phoenix Raceway announced in March of 2019 that for the first time since 2002, Championship Weekend would not be held at Homestead Miami Speedway. The one-mile Avondale track was selected as the new title host.

During FanShield 500 Speed Fest Weekend, the track unveiled the logo for the title weekend, distinctly Arizona.

“This is the Super Bowl of racing,” Phoenix Raceway Track President, Julie Giese told Sports360AZ. “We’ll be celebrating with four championship trophies being handed out and we want our fans to be part of that. Everything that we do is here is about the fan experience and immersing our fans into our sport. We want our fans to be part of that championship party each and every night.”

NASCAR adds their championship race to a large slate of championship events held in the west valley including the College Football Semifinal in 2019, Super Bowl LVII in 2023, and the 2024 College Basketball Final Four and Championship Game.

“Arizona’s proud to be the premier destination for the biggest events in all of sports,” Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, said when the event was announced. “[Phoenix] Raceway will provide nothing short of the greatest experience in all of motorsports for NASCAR’s biggest weekend.”

“I think going forward, sports is a social event as much as it is an entertainment event,” NASCAR Vice Chairman, Mike Helton told Sports360AZ when it was announced. “The blend that [International Speedway Corporation] has found at their facilities, particularly here, I think is the future of major events.

“[Phoenix] Raceway has proved itself as a host and a facility and with the modernization of it, it seemed to make sense as we were changing things up that, well, if you didn’t go where we were going where would you go? Phoenix was the town and [Phoenix] Raceway was the racetrack.”

NASCAR signs a five-year contract with all venues that legally prevent NASCAR from making major adjustments to the schedule that could remove or add tracks to the 36-week schedule. Those contracts expire at the end of 2020. Therefore, more major changes could arrive in the 2021 schedule.

According to racing-reference, NASCAR first began racing in the valley at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in 1951. The raceway opened in 1964 and started holding NASCAR Cup races in 1988. The first Cup win was by Wisconsin’s Alan Kulwicki. Phoenix Raceway held the semifinal race under a different points configuration starting in 1988 until a brief hiatus and reclaimed the race 2002.

Championship Weekend will feature the Gander Outdoor and RV Truck Series, Xfinity Series, ARCA West Series, and Cup Series. The Championships will be held Nov. 6, 7, and 8.

Arizona native, Devon Henry, joined the Sports360AZ crew in 2018 after graduating from Arizona State's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication. Devon has avidly partaken in coverage of the Arizona high school sports scene since 2013 and has covered NASCAR and INDYCAR at Phoenix Raceway since 2017. Devon is also a play-by-play announcer, calling over a dozen different sports and hundreds of events.