The time came, and the changes were announced.
NASCAR announced on Tuesday the 2020 schedule for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It’s the biggest schedule realignment the Cup Series has undergone in over a decade.
The major changes were as follows:
The championship race will move from Homestead-Miami Speedway to ISM (Phoenix) Raceway. It will move to Veterans Day weekend, rather than the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day, which the championship race has been held on.
The reasoning, according to NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell, was to prevent one driver from gaining a competitive advantage by running at the same track year after year.
“Obviously a ton of investment has gone into ISM Raceway,” O’Donnell said. “We thought it was natural for us to make that rotation this year and see how it plays out, also put Miami in a date that works for them, as well.”
He added that this probably isn’t a one year thing.
“I can’t say how long,” he said. “I think with any venue, you want to see it have a chance and grow a little bit, see how that works. We’ll certainly take a look at it as we look at 2021 and beyond, see what’s on the table in terms of venues.”
“But this wasn’t a decision we said, ‘Hey, let’s go there for a year and rotate it.’ Our intent is to stay for a few years and see how we net out.”
Daytona International Speedway’s second race moves from Independence Day weekend to the regular season finale, which will now be in August.
Given the attendance and weather issues that have plagued Daytona in July, NASCAR talked to drivers and teams on the matter, and they said, according to NASCAR, that Daytona at the end of the regular season was the best way to end it.
“Everyone felt Daytona belonged there and that track deserved to potentially be in that date,” O’Donnell said.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway moves from September to Independence Day weekend.
Bristol Motor Speedway’s night race moves from its August date to the Cup Series Playoffs on Sep. 19.
“If NASCAR fans thought they’ve seen tempers flare and sparks fly under the lights at the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, just wait until they experience a real pressure-packed NASCAR playoff elimination race at Bristol Motor Speedway,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president
Pocono Raceway’s two dates will move to one date, as part of a double-header for the Cup Series.
Martinsville Speedway’s first weekend moves from late March/early April to Mother’s Day
Darlington Raceway remains in its Labor Day weekend slot, but will now open the Playoffs.
There’s some other date shuffling.