NASCAR announces site for 2025 championship (2024)

Cole Cusumano| Special to The Arizona Republic

Since Phoenix Raceway was named the site of NASCAR Championship Weekend in 2020, Arizona has fully embraced the privilege bestowed upon it in serving as the home for one of the most celebrated traditions in motorsports.

Whether being welcomed at Sky Harbor International Airport to a barrage of advertisem*nts for the series finale, catching a glimpse of the innovative billboards in Downtown Phoenix or cruising over the crosswalks painted like start-finish lines in Avondale, you know Arizona is the home of NASCAR Championship Weekend.

And it’s going to stay that way.

The Arizona Republic learned Phoenix Raceway will host NASCAR Championship Weekend in 2025 for all three national series (Cup, Xfinity and Trucks), making it six straight years the one-mile track will have had the prestigious honor.

“We are very excited and honored to be able to continue to host (the) championship here in Phoenix yet again in 2025,” track president Latasha Causey said. “There's no better place to be than Arizona in November, but also our fans.

“Our fans continue to tell us by way of sellouts that they want to be here and that they enjoy being here in Phoenix. We're really excited to be able to continue to create great opportunities for our fans and championship weekend.”

Arizona has become a haven for professional sports championships in recent years, serving as the site of the World Series, Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four to name a few. The picturesque desert-mountain landscapes rival some of the best views in the country, and it’s almost impossible to find better weather — especially in November in NASCAR’s case.

As for the track itself, it’s been well-documented how Phoenix Raceway has evolved into a multi-entertainment mecca following a $178 million renovation with an emphasis on the fan experience. In addition to NASCAR, the track has also hosted monthly music festivals and a variety of expos to make use of the facilities year-round.

Thanks to the revered leadership of former track president Julie Giese, and continued initiative by Causey to boost community efforts, Phoenix Raceway has become a state-of-the-art bucket-list venue up there with the likes of Daytona International Speedway.

Which would explain why Phoenix Raceway has hosted a sell-out crowd for the NASCAR Cup Series going on six straight races.

“The first thing that comes to mind is this proves that we can (host a championship),” Avondale Mayor Kenn Weise said. “Ideally, after four or five years, you'd think we could do it, but I just think it shows that NASCAR has faith in what we do as a city.

“It (also) shows that a small city like Avondale, less than 100,000 people, can put on and pull off a huge event that has the eyes of the nation on it.’

More NASCAR: Life in Arizona allows NASCAR driver Kyle Larson more quality time with family

Unfortunately, one issue that’s eluded NASCAR and the site of the finale is putting on a widely acclaimed, visually compelling product since the introduction of the seventh-generation car in 2022. This has caused many outside of the Valley to question the decision to keep Phoenix as the finale.

That’s not to say the racing hasn’t been competitive.

The most common complaint is there’s “no passing” at Phoenix, yet reigning winner Christopher Bell had to charge from the back of the field to score his victory in a race that saw 2,813 green-flag passes. That’s the most in the Next Gen era at the one-mile track and third-most since NASCAR started going there for the finale in 2020.

By the numbers, Phoenix has also averaged the second-most green-flag passes at short tracks in the current car at 2,930 only to Richmond Raceway’s 3,589. But being competitive and being appealing in regard to racing are two completely different things.

NASCAR has conducted multiple tests in an effort to improve its short-track package for a better product at Phoenix, but with little progress. This weekend, the sanctioning body will experiment with a softer tire in the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway in hopes they can make a difference for the finale in November potentially.

At least through 2025, NASCAR’s championship will stay in Arizona. But is there uncertainty?

Phoenix Raceway offers a one-of-a-kind experience in a desert oasis with proven success in the form of ongoing sell-out crowds and competitive racing that has crowned worthy champions the last four seasons with Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney.

In addition to more-than-favorable numbers surrounding the events, the overwhelming outpour of support from the fans and community has been the difference-maker to this point.

Nowhere else on the circuit will you find people camped out for a full week in anticipation of the on-track activities — championship weekend and the spring race. There’s also the aforementioned yearly signage and embracement of NASCAR across the state.

More than just assumed inherited support from the community, Phoenix Raceway hosting the series finale going on a fifth year has opened the door for putting on events such as the NASCAR Championship Ignition Luncheon, STEM activities with Arizona Cardinals legend Larry Fitzgerald and the Beyond the Finish Line program, which have helped expose a new legion of a young and diverse demographic to the world of NASCAR.

“Over the last year-and-a-half, as a community girl born and raised here in Arizona, it was really important for me and it continues to be really important to me for us to open up our home, our raceway, to this community,” Casuey said. “We've done a wonderful job of that by having new fans come out, integrated into our existing fan base.

“For our local partners, once they learn of the news, I know they're going to be very excited,” Causey added. “I get the question on a very regular basis, ‘Are you going to have a championship here next year? We'd be excited to have you.’ And that's a consistent message across the board from local leaders within our entire market.”

Yes, racing is the main reason people come to the track. But the enthusiasm felt by the community, the way Arizona embraces NASCAR's presence, and how the track has executed on a bi-annual basis goes a long way.

“Putting on a championship race is not only a very expensive endeavor, but you don't want to take chances on it,” Weise said. “The market is big enough to support everything that they want to do, and yet, it's small enough where they get the treatment and cooperation that they’re really looking for.

“I think that goes a long way. NASCAR knows the commodity that it has in Avondale and that's why they keep on coming back.”

As expected, the NASCAR Cup Series finale on Nov. 10 is quickly tracking towards a seventh-straight sell-out at Phoenix Raceway, so fans wishing to attend are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets for the finale as soon as possible.

In anticipation of the 2024 finale, the NASCAR Championship Ignition Luncheon will also return this fall to kick start the playoffs for a great cause, with more details to be disclosed later.

NASCAR announces site for 2025 championship (2024)
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