NASCAR Unveils Massive 2020 Schedule Changes
NASCAR unveiled sweeping changes to the 2020 Monster Energy Cup Series schedule.
“The fans and the industry as a whole have been vocal about the desire for sweeping changes to the schedule, and the 2020 slate is a reflection of our efforts to execute against that feedback,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “These changes are the result of unprecedented consensus-building with our race tracks and broadcast partners; something we look to continue into 2021 and beyond.”
The biggest change is the shifting of the championship-crowning weekend for NASCAR from Homestead-Miami Speedway and ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. Homestead’s race will now move from November to late March, a date historically associated with racing in the Miami area.
“Ralph Sanchez’s vision for our track more than 25 years ago was to host spring racing and be a major part of South Florida’s March calendar,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer. “Miami has historically hosted many popular events during March, including the Miami Open, the Florida Derby, Ultra and the Calle Ocho Music Festival, among others, and this move will integrate us into this impressive mix. A March race weekend affords us many unique opportunities to entertain the South Florida community as we host NASCAR races for many years to come.”
The next big move is the traditional Fourth of July weekend date at Daytona moving to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Daytona’s second race of the year will now host the regular-season finale before the NASCAR Cup playoffs begin. Additionally, Pocono Raceway will now feature a first-of-its-kind double-header weekend. This allows for back-to-back off weekends to accommodate NBC’s Olympics coverage in 2020.
Bristol’s popular night race will also shift, becoming the cut-off race for the first round of the playoffs. Martinsville will also shift to Mother’s Day weekend with a night race on Saturday, while also being the final playoff cutoff race before the finale in Phoenix.
Historic Darlington Raceway also now becomes the opening round of the playoffs, while Atlanta’s date moves from the second race of the year to the fifth, placing NASCAR’s traditional west-coast swing as the immediate follow-up to the Daytona 500.
Prior to the release of the schedule, rumors were rampant that even larger changes loomed, including the possible addition of road courses like Circuit of the Americas to the schedule, or making the finale a rotating event akin to the Super Bowl. While none of those came to fruition, possible changes still remain for the 2021 schedule, depending upon fan reaction and input from sponsors, teams, and stakeholders.