Photo credit: Homestead-Miami Speedway

Championship's return priority for Homestead-Miami track president

Guillermo Santa Cruz, the new track president of Homestead-Miami Speedway, has only been in his role for mere days. However, he has already let NASCAR fans know that he wants an important race back at the South Florida track.

The Craftsman Truck Series, Xfinity, and Cup Series championship races took place at the 1.5-mile track located south of Miami between 2002-19. A major change took place in 2020 as NASCAR moved its championship weekend to Phoenix Raceway, where it has remained since.

"I can tell you that doing that is obviously a top priority," Santa Cruz said about bringing back the championship races during a sitdown with media members. "We want to have the best races and the best of everything.

"Now how we get there and how that process comes along all can be determined in time, but any track president that comes in, they want to have a championship. That is the epitome of the sport."

Hosting the championship race will not take place in 2025. NASCAR has already announced that Phoenix Raceway will host the championship weekend for the sixth consecutive season. However, The Athletic's Jordan Bianchi has reported that the City of Homestead is working to secure the championship weekend in 2026.

Santa Cruz, the son of Cuban exiles, is still early in the process of taking over as track president. He hasn't been heavily involved in the efforts to bring the championship races back to Homestead-Miami Speedway. However, he recognizes that there are some things he must do on his end to support this goal.

Fitting in the overall South Florida sports landscape is crucial to building up a fanbase, as is focusing on an international strategy. As Santa Cruz explained, sports fans from all over the world will make the trip to Miami for a variety of events.

Homestead-Miami Speedway must host events that appeal to these visitors, whether they involve sports, music, or something else.

That doesn't mean that Santa Cruz is forgetting about NASCAR, the fans, and the races that take place on the 1.5-mile track. He knows that the sanctioning body and its tracks already put on big, successful events.

The key moving forward for Santa Cruz is connecting with potential new fans in South Florida. He wants Homestead-Miami Speedway to truly be part of the community.

"Look, there's a huge untapped potential here in Homestead to begin with," Santa Cruz said. "I think the first thing to look at is our neighbors or our community that we serve and live with 24/7 and work a little bit in concentric circles. So let's look at the area around the track first and then we'll expand farther out into the rest of South Florida.

"But we have to be part of this community first. I think that's truly important in this role. This is obviously a huge facility that can host and does host many events."

Santa Cruz, who comes to NASCAR after more than 10 years with global sports agency IMG, brings a different perspective to his new role at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

He didn't come up through the NASCAR ecosystem, so he may approach the situation differently than NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Track Properties Officer Chip Wile or Daytona International President Frank Kelleher.

Santa Cruz could potentially bring in outside resources to help build the relationship with the South Florida community. A different perspective often brings fresh ideas.

This process won't be easy considering the other sports franchises in the area, as well as the numerous beaches nearby. Still, Santa Cruz believes that there is a place for Homestead-Miami Speedway to fit in now and in the future as long as they put in the work.

"We have to be active in the community, we have to be active in the market," he said. "You have to make a little bit of noise and make sure that people know what's going on."