HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on NASCAR’s Cup Series championship (all times local):
Retired NBA star Michael Jordan is attending the NASCAR Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Jordan, who owns the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, and championship contender Denny Hamlin are good friends — they met seven years ago — so Jordan will be rooting for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver and cheering from his pit box.
“We go way back,” Jordan said during an interview with NBC Sports. “He’s a season-ticket holder at the Hornets. I spend a lot of time playing golf with him, and obviously I’m a big NASCAR fan, so I came out to support him.”
Jordan says he grew up watching NASCAR and sets “my clock every Sunday” to catch races.
Jordan says he has no plans to get more involved in racing.
“I’ve got a lot on my plate,” he said. “I love being a fan. I still understand the sport, but in terms of ownership, nah, I think I’m just going to sit back and watch it and support from afar.”
NASCAR will run its final race under the Monster Energy banner, as the series is set to move to a new sponsorship model in 2020.
Monster Energy has sponsored the Cup Series since 2017. NASCAR top circuit has also been called the Winston Cup, the Nextel Cup and the Sprint Cup.
Monster executive Mitch Covington said he hoped the company "brought a lot of fun" to NASCAR and the brand will continue to remain in the series. The name of the stock car series will simply be the NASCAR Cup Series.
NASCAR is moving toward a tiered sponsorship, and those plans will be announced at the awards banquet next month.
"Monster has been a phenomenal partner for us," NASCAR President Steve Phelps said Sunday. "They've had significant success with their sponsorship and entitlement."
The NASCAR Cup Series championship will be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. are racing for the title Sunday along with Stewart-Haas Racing star Kevin Harvick.
Busch, Harvick and Truex are all going for a second Cup championship. Hamlin is looking for his first.
Las Vegas odds-makers have basically posted the winner-take-all race as a dead heat with no clear favorite.
This championship field is nearly identical to last year, with Busch, Harvick and Truex returning to the finale again. Hamlin has not been in the championship race since 2014.
Homestead is moving on the 2020 schedule to March, ending its streak of 18 years as the season finale.
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