Everything is in play for the future of NASCAR

NASCAR president Steve Phelps discusses a pending overhaul of the NASCAR schedule

NASCAR is very open to anything that is desired by the fans

NASCAR has a long list of negatives surrounding it. But, there’s a lot of positives under that some sanction.

“The racing product is as good as we’ve seen,” NASCAR President Steve Phelps stated of the current NASCAR product.

“We have been facing some headwinds. We’re hitting those head on. We’re working with our teams, tracks our drivers to make sure that we put on the best racing product we can to make sure this sport stays healthy for many years to come.”

NASCAR fans hate change. And there’s been a lot of change in the recent years. Playoffs have been introduced. The system was then further enhanced with the addition of stage racing. If you go back into the previous decade or two than the sport has basically seen the schedule and tracks shifted entirely.

For the NASCAR fans that hate change, they might not be happy with the coming years. Or maybe they’ll like it because what’s going to happen is a change to the ways of old.

What’s in play for the future of NASCAR?

“Short answer, everything’s in play. We’ve heard from our fan base that they would like to see more short track racing. They wanna see more road courses,” Phelps stated.

“They wanna see less cookie cutter tracks. Whatever that means. We are looking with our broadcast partners and with our tracks as well as our teams and drivers to see what each of them believes to be an ideal schedule.”

“Will we see more short tracks, road courses, double-headers, mid-week racing, pulling the season forward. All of those things are in play. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“We are working diligently on what a 2020 schedule will be.”‘

NASCAR Cup Series at ISM Raceway
PHOENIX, AZ – NOVEMBER 11: A general view of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway on November 11, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

2020 or 2021

2020 has been listed as the year of change in NASCAR. Why? That’s the year that a bulk of track sanctions expire. But, that runs through 2020. Meaning, by 2020 we’d see a possible new direction announced as far as NASCAR tracks. However, that wouldn’t take effect until 2021.

How will the 5 year track sanctions play a role in the schedule. Will we see a bigger schedule change in 2021?

“We do have 5 year sanctions. Those sanction go through the 2020 season,” Phelps confirms.

“So, if we are going to make significant changes to our schedule we need to make sure that our tracks are on-board with what those significant changes would be.”

“Do I think that our tracks are interested in looking at that? I know they are. They’re doing that because that’s what our fans want. Are we going to go do every single thing a fan would want? Probably not.”

“For us, we will need to have significant conversations with our race tracks and the broader industry but the race tracks in particular if we’re going to have significant schedule changes for 2020.”

What does that mean? It means we could actually see changes to the tracks in 2020. Before the track contracts expire, we could see several tracks willing to shake up the schedule on their own. Because as stated, NASCAR can’t do anything with the schedule until 2021. At the same time, that doesn’t stop companies like Speedway Motorsports incorporated and International Speedway Corporation (ISCA:NASDAQ) shaking up the schedule on their own.

In 2021 you could blow the whole thing up though, right?

“The dialogue we’re having with our race tracks is really good dialogue. So, we need to make sure we’re making the smartest decisions we can that affect the sport most positively.”

“They’re a major stakeholder in this sport. Teams are a major stakeholder. Our broadcast partners are a major stakeholder in this sport all making go around with the fan base.”

“Listening to all those inputs and all that data is the way that we’re going to make informed decisions for both 2020 as well as 2021.”

2018 NASCAR Championship 4 in the Homestead-Miami Speedway garage area
2018 NASCAR Championship 4 in the Homestead-Miami Speedway garage area

Shortening races and enhanced weekends?

We saw several NASCAR race weekends in 2018 that were enhanced. This meant that there were only two days of on-track action for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Those weekends provided the teams and the drivers an extra day at home of the course of the never-ending schedule.

Will we see more of that in the coming years?

“Not to give you a middle of the road answer, which I’m going to give you…”

“We have shortened some races. Is it something we’ll continue to look at? It will be. Our 2019 schedule is set. But, all of those things are on the table.”

“I don’t see enhanced weekends growing in 2019. What you saw this year, for the most part, you will see again.”


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