NASCAR is trying to become relevant again by loosening the ties on its scheduling prior to its new agreements scheduled to begin in 2021 after agreements are signed next year. There wasn’t a lot of shuffling the sanctioning body could do with its MENSC (Cup) series, but shuffle it did.
For the 2020 season, Homestead-Miami Speedway is out as season closer and ISM Speedway outside Phoenix gets the nod. No longer will Daytona International Speedway host a race on July 4th weekend; rather, that nod goes to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, hoping to put some sparks back into its Brickyard 400 with a Fourth of July weekend date.
Martinsville, one of every competitor’s favorite short tracks is the penultimate contest on the 36-race points-paying schedule, while the final “regular” season race will be held at Daytona, making it a far more relevant date. It might have been nice – and might be after next season – for NASCAR to do as NHRA does, which is begin and end its seasons at its “home” track, in this case, Daytona. There would be issues with hurricane season in early November, but weather is an issue for every race.
NASCAR fans, bred on short-track racing are getting their wish in the 10-race playoffs next year, with four races in that span on tracks of one mile or less. The playoffs begin at Darlington Raceway on September 6, then go to Richmond Raceway a week later, followed by a Saturday night Bristol Motor Speedway race, then Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval, Kansas Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway and on to ISM.
Of note during the regular season, the Cup Series heads west as soon as NASCAR completes its stay in Daytona, with consecutive contests at Las Vegas, Fontana, and ISM. NASCAR’s Memorial Day race on May 24th again makes it difficult for any driver wanting to do “The Double” at the Indianapolis 500, and Pocono’s two races are on the same, late June weekend, one on Saturday and the second scheduled for Sunday, June 27-28.
After celebrating Independence Day in Indianapolis, the haulers have a short trip to Kentucky Speedway. Road course races at Sonoma (June 14) and August 16 at Watkins Glen International are near their traditional spots.
While these schedule changes are – or could be – enticing for fans, NASCAR needs to look at more than race dates to bring interest back to their products. But it’s a good start. Better than many of us thought it would be.
2020 NASCAR CUP SERIES SCHEDULE
|Sunday, Feb. 9||The Clash|
|Thursday, Feb. 13||Duel at Daytona|
|Sunday, Feb. 16||Daytona 500|
|Sunday, Feb. 23||Las Vegas Motor Speedway|
|Sunday, March 1||Auto Club Speedway|
|Sunday, March 8||ISM Raceway|
|Sunday, March 15||Atlanta Motor Speedway|
|Sunday, March 22||Homestead-Miami Speedway|
|Sunday, March 29||Texas Motor Speedway|
|Sunday, April 5||Bristol Motor Speedway|
|Sunday, April 19||Richmond Raceway|
|Sunday, April 26||Talladega Superspeedway|
|Sunday, May 3||Dover International Speedway|
|Saturday, May 9||Martinsville Speedway|
|Saturday, May 16||All-Star Race, Charlotte|
|Sunday, May 24||Charlotte Motor Speedway|
|Sunday, May 31||Kansas Speedway|
|Sunday, June 7||Michigan International Speedway|
|Sunday, June 14||Sonoma Raceway|
|Sunday, June 21||Chicagoland Speedway|
|Saturday, June 27||Pocono Raceway|
|Sunday, June 28||Pocono Raceway|
|Sunday, July 5||Indianapolis Motor Speedway|
|Saturday, July 11||Kentucky Speedway|
|Sunday, July 19||New Hampshire Motor Speedway|
|Sunday, Aug. 9||Michigan International Speedway|
|Sunday, Aug. 16||Watkins Glen International|
|Sunday, Aug. 23||Dover International Speedway|
|Saturday, Aug. 29||Daytona International Speedway|
|Sunday, Sept. 6||Darlington Raceway|
|Saturday, Sept. 12||Richmond Raceway|
|Saturday, Sept. 19||Bristol Motor Speedway|
|Sunday, Sept. 27||Las Vegas Motor Speedway|
|Sunday, Oct. 4||Talladega Superspeedway|
|Sunday, Oct. 11||Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval|
|Sunday, Oct. 18||Kansas Speedway|
|Sunday, Oct. 25||Texas Motor Speedway|
|Sunday, Nov. 1||Martinsville Speedway|
|Sunday, Nov. 8||ISM Raceway|