NASCAR announced on Wednesday a bevy of new changes to its 2020 schedule in the hopes of providing a much needed reboot. For quite a while now, the NASCAR schedule had become somewhat monotonous. A few changes would traditionally occur, most notably the recent addition of the Charlotte Roval to the Playoff schedule. Yet, there were portions of the season that would bog down the fight amongst the nations best stock car drivers, and the changes brought forward could provide the boost that NASCAR is so desperately after.
The highlight change was the move to have the newly redesigned ISM Raceway become the new Championship race. ISM will be replacing the iconic Homestead-Miami Speedway that had been the home to NASCAR’s finale since 2002. This change could alter the favorites for the final race of the year, and it would be interesting to see if this change could lead to a future of transitioning the tracks playing host to the Championship race. While there is no indication that this is indeed the case, it might be a strategy to constantly keep the drivers on their toes. The logistics of such a decision, however, might not allow for this idea to become a reality.
Daytona will now be the final race of the regular season and drivers still striving for a playoff spot may find this both a blessing and a curse. Drivers who may otherwise require a win to get into the Playoffs may find themselves with the chance of winning. On the other hand, drivers that only need a solid points finish to qualify for the Playoffs could easily become involved in an unavoidable wreck that leaves them on the outside looking in. There will be a great deal of discussion about the implications of this decision over the coming year, but it will no doubt create a magnificent spectacle for race fans by adding yet another way to enhance the famous track’s reputation.
The famed paperclip short track, Martinsville Speedway, will now be an elimination race. However, Martinsville will not be the only short track to take over as an elimination race for the 2020 Playoffs. Bristol will now be the first elimination race in the NASCAR Playoffs and will run under the lights, which will surely create a tense and magnanimous opportunity to secure a spot in the next round. If one was to look at the elimination races for the Playoffs, that person would find a sequence of short track, road course, and short track. As “non-traditional” tracks, it will be riveting to see how drivers react to this change.
Pocono will now be home to a double header on June 27th and June 28th. This is the first double header to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule in the modern era. In essence there will be double points on offer over one weekend. It is a move reminiscent of the IndyCar Series that utilizes this approach throughout their own season. Could a driver like Denny Hamlin be able to score back to back wins that only solidifies a higher seed in the playoffs?
Another area of note for the summer races is the inclusion of a break from July 20th to August 7th. This gap in race weekends will provide the opportunity for drivers to get some much needed rest while also allowing the teams to focus on the final five regular season races in anticipation for the playoffs. The NASCAR season is long and grueling spanning ten months so this respite is a welcomed one.
New storylines are exactly what drives the upcoming 2020 season. Whether it is moving Indianapolis to 4th of July weekend or the continued inclusion of the Charlotte Roval as an elimination race, there are a multitude of reasons to tune in each week. For a considerable amount of time, there were very little surprises when NASCAR would announce the next season’s schedule, but the 2020 schedule will provide one of the most refreshing seasons in over a decade.
*NASCAR 2020 Schedule Information Taken from NASCAR.com