The NASCAR world has been demanding changes to the 36-race, February-to-November schedule for what feels like forever. The drivers wanted the âstaleâ schedule to be updated to include things like weekday races in the summer and to rotate the Cup Series finale, which has been at Homestead-Miami Speedway since 2002.
NASCAR announced changes to the 2020 schedule Tuesday afternoon, and the reaction was mixed. A lot of fans seemed pretty pumped about Martinsville Speedway now being a night race in the spring, and Darlington Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway joining the playoff schedule. But theyâre not sure about some other adjustments.
Among the biggest changes, the last race of the season will be at the newly renovated ISM Raceway near Phoenix instead of being the penultimate race and the last-chance qualifier for the Championship 4 event.
It doesnât seem like a great idea to move the championship race from Florida to the other side of the country and like the decision was made simply because Phoenix got a makeover. For 18 years â including 2019 â Homesteadâs lone race was for the title, and it became synonymous with that. The chatter in the garage was often about how theyâre going to get to Homestead, a 1.5-mile intermediate track that didnât seem to favor any one driver. Thatâs not quite the case now.
Other big changes include moving the summer Daytona International Speedway race from the Fourth of July (give or take) to the end of August, making it the final regular-season race and last chance for drivers to qualify for the 10-race, 16-driver playoffs. Thatâs certainly spicing things up a bit.
Bristol will be the first cutoff race when the field is whittled down from 16 to 12 drivers, and the West Coast swing will begin immediately after the season-opening Daytona 500, which bumps the Atlanta Motor Speedway race down to the fifth race of the season.
And since Homestead is no longer the championship race, it will follow Atlanta for a March 22 race.
Pocono Raceway will host back-to-back races for the Cup Series on Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28, which is kind of a weird move but it also helps ensure the season will end in November a weekend earlier than it usually does.
However, as my astute colleague Nick Schwartz pointed out, how much equipment does that mean teams will have to bring to that race weekend? What happens if they wreck at the Tricky Triangle in the first race?
Hereâs a look at how drivers, media members and fans reacted to the changes to the 2020 Cup Series schedule. The drivers seem fairly into it too, and they havenât been afraid to speak up or criticize the schedule in the past.