Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Why A NASCAR Ticket Offer Looks Like A Hint For 2021 – Forbes

Why A NASCAR Ticket Offer Looks Like A Hint For 2021 – Forbes
11 Feb

With tickets still available for the 2020 Daytona 500 this Sunday, Daytona International Speedway announced Monday that tickets to the 2021 Daytona 500 were available through pre-sale. According to the track, it is the earliest that Daytona 500 tickets have been available.

Here is the intriguing and fun part. The 2021 race has been scheduled for Feb. 14. The date is not unusual: the Daytona 500 has been held eight times on Feb. 14, most recently in 2010. But 21 of the last 22 races have been on the third or fourth Sunday of February.

So the biggest and most prestigious race in stock-car racing, presumably the NASCAR Cup Series season opener once again, will be moved up a week next year. Super Bowl LV is to be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Feb. 7, 2021.

There has been just one week between the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500 just once, in 2010. The Daytona 500 has capped a two-weekend series of events known forever as  “Speedweeks.” So, either Speedweeks will clash with the Super Bowl, or it will just be a Speedweek. Either way, Daytona gets just as much time to sell tickets to the 2021 race as it had to the 2020 race.

“The remainder of the Speedweeks schedule will be announced at a later date,” speedway spokesman Andrew Booth wrote in an email.

There are other sporting events held earlier on Super Sunday that wrap up hours before the Super Bowl’s 6:30 p.m. ET kickoff, so auto racing could be squeezed in, too. Qualifying for this year’s race was held at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. That would be no problem on Super Sunday.

The Busch Clash, an 18-car exhibition all-star race, might need to be moved back a day in 2021 — if it is held at all. The Busch Clash devolved into an expensive wreck-fest before a slim crowd Sunday, with four accidents in the last 15 laps and just six cars finishing the race.

What is more important than the Busch Clash is that the NASCAR Cup season is being moved up a week. NASCAR won’t announce the 2021 Cup Series schedule for about another two months, but could this be a hint that the end of the schedule will also be moved up?

The 2020 season will end Nov. 8 in Phoenix, a week earlier than it did in 2019. Because of the Tokyo Olympics on NBC, there will be no Cup races the last weekend of July and first week of August. NASCAR might like a one-weekend late-summer break in 2021.

But the schedule squeeze finally might be underway. NASCAR ratings tail off as the end of the season, the ginned-up playoffs, collide with the NFL and college football. Ideally, the Cup season would end Labor Day weekend with the Southern 500, a genuine tradition.

Selling the Daytona 500 should not be a problem. The four Daytona 500s that have been held since the track’s seating areas were renovated (and capacity reduced to 101,500) have sold out, and Booth said sales are “trending” toward a fifth consecutive sellout Sunday. Tickets to the 2021 race start at $99.

A 2021 season that would open Feb. 7 and end on Labor Day would include 31 weekends. Throw in a couple of two-race weekends, as there is in 2020 at Pocono, and perhaps a midweek Cup race or two in the summer, and a 30-race season would be possible. And better.

The big question to be decided in the next two months (or maybe already decided, but announced) is which race tracks might lose events and which race tracks might be added to the Cup schedule. The suspense will be more fun than the 2020 races — and with no stages, too!


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