There is always a special vibe surrounding the final race of a NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Not only does it mark the crowning of a champion, but it is the final opportunity for drivers and teams to pull off one last great run before they head into the winter. For teams with their 2012 plans already solidified, a bad race won't ruin them. They'll simply head into the offseason, which will center around building more speed into their race cars so they can be in the position either Carl Edwards or Tony Stewart will be in this weekend, not to mention hoping to succeed Trevor Bayne as Daytona 500 champion.
For drivers such as Brian Vickers and David Reutimann, however, Sunday might be their last opportunity to prove they belong at the Sprint Cup level. Neither driver has a ride for the 2012 season, and the uncertainty surrounding their future could make Sunday's Ford 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway a "do or die" event, at least in terms of their careers.
One can't make an impression if he isn't even in the starting field, and five of the 13 teams outside the top-35 in owner points will fail in that task. To see the entire entry list, including the 13 go-or-go-home teams for which qualifying day could be their last day of the season, head to Jayski.com.
This weekend is also the last opportunity for fans to enjoy live on-track action featuring their favorite stars of stock car racing. ESPN2 and SPEED will carry practice and qualifying, while ESPN will televise the final race of the Sprint Cup season.
Here is the Sprint Cup weekend TV schedule. All times, as always, are Eastern.
Practice: 3 p.m. - ESPN2
Practice: 6 p.m. - SPEED
Qualifying: 2:30 p.m. - SPEED
NASCAR Countdown: 2 p.m. - ESPN
Ford 400: 3 p.m. - ESPN