We’ve heard that 2020 will be a big “year of change” in NASCAR. What does that mean exactly? We’ve been told that anything and everything is on the table as far as the schedule goes. We know what we’ve got for 2019 but 2020 could give us an entirely new landscape as far as the NASCAR schedule.
Everyone has their own opinion on what they would do for an ideal schedule for NASCAR. Whether it be shorten the season, lengthen the season, run races midweek, more short tracks, more road courses, etc. there are opinions about all the scenarios.
I like several of the ideas that others have discussed and will blend several ideas together to create what I would consider an “ideal” 2020 NASCAR Cup schedule with notes to follow:
In my opinion, there are several ways to tackle the 2020 schedule. I am making a few assumptions.
- I’m assuming that NASCAR will not shrink the scheduled number of races from 36. Many would argue that going down to 30 races would be the ticket. That argument is valid and may be best suited for it’s own article. If they actually decided to shrink the schedule down I feel the best option would be to rotate tracks, and second races for some tracks, in and out every other year to try to keep everyone relatively happy.
- I’m assuming that Indianapolis will remain on the NASCAR schedule. If it does not, then I would substitute in either a race I’ve taken away from Kansas or Michigan, or possibly even throw Gateway into the mix.
- I’m assuming the playoff structure in NASCAR will remain largely the same. Like it or not, I don’t think the playoff concept is going away.
- Finally, if there is a conflict with some other event I’m not aware of I apologize. I tried to make this as realistic as possible without going into total fantasy land.
As you can see my schedule starts at Daytona, although I do think there’s a chance to pull the season back a week by having one race prior to Daytona, on the NFL off-weekend prior to the yearly Super Bowl. We tackle Daytona for two weekends like normal here then jet out west to Auto Club Speedway the following Sunday.
I have put a true west coast swing in this schedule with Las Vegas running the week after Auto Club. Then, I have NASCAR heading to the first road course of the year, Sonoma, the following Saturday.
Yes, racing at Sonoma in early March may be a bit chillier than running later in the year. But in this schedule I’m attempting to make things as logistical as possible and not trekking across the country needlessly. Plus, the average temperature in Sonoma in March is in the mid 60s. Is that any nuttier than trying to run Atlanta in February when it’s often in the 30s-40s?
The reason I have Sonoma as a Saturday race is that we are going to run our first of two Wednesday night shootouts after the Sonoma event. NASCAR heads to ISM for a Wednesday night special. This occurs just before the NCAA gets going with March Madness the next week so prime time would be wide open for this event.
I give the series it’s first off week after the ISM race. The cars won’t hit the track again until Sunday, March 22 in Atlanta following the race at ISM. We leave Atlanta and head to Texas on March 29, and then Bristol, with a race on April 5.
Then I have NASCAR starting a new tradition. For years, the Busch Grand National Series ran on Easter weekend at Hickory and it was always a good show. To help shorten the season, and to help create a new tradition, NASCAR comes to Martinsville on Easter weekend.
We follow Martinsville by heading to the high banked Talladega Superspeedway on April 19. The series then turns to another short track, Richmond Raceway, on April 26. The following weekend the circuit rolls into the Irish Hills and the lone race of the season at Michigan International Speedway.
After the MIS race I have the circuit taking it’s second off weekend of the year for Mother’s Day, on May 10.
The series roars back into action on May 17 at the newly designed Pocono Roval, and the second road course race of the season.
I do not have NASCAR in Charlotte for two consecutive weekends for the All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600. To help trim the schedule down a bit I have NASCAR running the All-Star Race the day prior to the Coca-Cola 600. They ran it the day prior several years in the past and I feel the All-Star concept, while still attractive, doesn’t need it’s own weekend in today’s market.
The week after the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR heads to Kentucky Speedway for a Saturday night race. We follow Kentucky with a race on June 7 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Then, I bring another new concept into the schedule. The following weekend I have NASCAR racing twice, on Saturday and Sunday, at Dover International Raceway. This was a way to help Dover stand out and keep two races. With this new concept, Dover would run twin 300 lap races instead of 400 laps. This is a concept similar to what IndyCar does with their twin races in Detroit.
June 21, on Father’s Day weekend, I have the series heading to Road America for the third road course event of the season. If not Road America I would still insert another road course event in this slot – Mid Ohio & Barber Motorsports Park would also be good options for a NASCAR event.
The series heads to Chicagoland on June 28 for the 20th race on the 2020 calendar. We follow that with a July 4 race at Daytona International Speedway. Then the series heads to Kansas for the only time on July 11, followed by the second and final Wednesday night special, at Iowa Speedway on July 15.
Following Iowa, just like with the previous doubleheader, I have the series taking their third break of the season. The Cup cars return to action on July 26 at Pocono Raceway, on the traditional circuit. We follow Pocono with the fourth road course event of the year, at Watkins Glen. Then, we have a new regular season finale. Race 26 will be held at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The playoffs begin August 23 at the Brickyard. The following weekend the series heads to Richmond and the final race of round one of the playoffs takes place on Labor Day weekend, with the traditional running of the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
Round two of the playoffs kicks off at Talladega on September 13 with races at Martinsville and the Roval at Charlotte the following two weekends.
Round three of the playoffs starts at Texas on October 4. Las Vegas will be ran over Columbus Day weekend and the penultimate race at ISM will take place on October 18.
The season finale will remain unchanged, for now. We head into Homestead-Miami on October 25 to determine the 2020 NASCAR Champion.
Now, after breaking this down I have a couple of more notes. I don’t know what NASCAR is doing with the ARCA Series but I have a feeling there will be some ARCA companion weekends in the next couple of years. I would try to have Xfinity and the Trucks run with the Cup Series at times, but sometimes breaking away for doubleheader weekends of their own.
In fact, if I actually tackled a fantasy schedule for both of those series, I would likely have at least one of them racing every weekend that the Cup Series is off during the year. What better way to get more exposure than to have a fan yearning to watch racing tune into one of the lower divisions to get their weekend fix when the Cup Series is off?
I would also rotate the playoff races year-to-year. A pool of tracks would all be in the hopper for playoff consideration and those tracks would be guaranteed to rotate into the playoffs every 4 years with other tracks rotating out. I’m not sure how I feel about some tracks being the season ending race however. Homestead-Miami is a logical choice and has worked well. I think Las Vegas would be another natural choice, and if they wouldn’t have jacked up the track at Texas, that would also be in the running in my mind.
Of course, this is a fantasy 2020 NASCAR schedule. I would like to see the Xfinity Series and Trucks continue to run at more short tracks and road courses as well. I would have Trucks tackle a couple of other dirt venues, Knoxville, Iowa, and the Dirt Track at Charlotte. That would add two more nice dirt tracks but not oversaturate the dirt concept. Also, Xfinity should definitely look into a couple of other short tracks but I would keep them off of the dirt, for now.
What do you think? How would you tweak the NASCAR schedule?
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