Fans are upset that Daytona was replaced with Indianapolis on July 4th weekend; NASCAR explains that and other changes
There’s been a massive shakeup of the 2020 NASCAR schedule. There’s no new tracks. But, if you look closely, NASCAR is giving the fans what they want.
Short tracks have taken focus on the new NASCAR schedule. Round 1 of the playoffs will end at Richmond Raceway. Round 2 begins at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The championship four cutoff is now Martinsville Speedway. And the championship race has been moved to a track that isn’t a short track but it sure thinks it is.
Short tracks have taken focus inside the playoffs. Vegas, Kansas and Texas are the only 1.5 miles in the playoffs (Darlington excluded).
“A lot of work was done by Ben Kennedy. Which it was good to see him lean in and do more with the sanctioning body,” Steve O’Donnell stated via a press conference following the schedule announcement.
“The biggest compliments is to the race tracks. We have agreements with all of our existing tracks to stay at those venues through 2020. And also an agreement that we could not move a race unless they signed off on it, more than two weeks.”
There all a full list of track changes for the 2020 NASCAR schedule that go well beyond two weeks. There’s no new tracks on the schedule but it’s still a massive change.
“The tracks understood our desire to make some bold changes.”
NASCAR moves the championship race
Since 1999, Homestead-Miami Speedway has hosted the NASCAR finale in the warmer climate of Miami, Florida.
In recent years, the playoffs have basically made the winner of that race the NASCAR champion. But, going to the same track every year could favor drivers that happen to be very good at the 1.5-mile oval.
“Going to the same track year in and year old could potentially favor certain drivers. A ton of investments gone into ISM Raceway. It’s a big sports town. We thought it was natural for us to make that rotation.”
“Our intent is to stay there for a few years and see how we net out.”
International Speedway Corporation is the owner of Homestead-Miami Speedway. The same company that recently invested $178 million into ISM Raceway. NASCAR and ISC worked together and ISC agreed to move the championship race to their west coast track of ISM Raceway.
Daytona July race moved
The Daytona July race is a night race on the 2.5-mile oval. NASCAR has been going to Daytona in the month of July since 1959 when Fireball Roberts took the first checkered flag.
That race is embedded in the history of NASCAR. The moving of this race in particular has some of the fans upset.
July 4th weekend is a special date. Especially for a support with such a military presence. They sure didn’t make the Daytona race any smaller.
Now the race is even bigger. The second Daytona race will close out the 2020 regular season on August 29th, 2019. That’s going to create some drama.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway has struggled from a NASCAR front. When you talk about poor NASCAR attendance, Indianapolis will be part of the discussion.
Now, Indianapolis has a crown jewel date. July 4th weekend is one of the largest traveling days of the year for people in the United States. Perhaps some elect to visit Indiana for the new date of the NASCAR race.
“I can say with full confidence that we would not have made that move if we didn’t move it to the season finale. For the track and for the industry — While I love July 4th and the tradition — It’s not sold out.”
“It’s been a challenge from a weather standpoint. Are we really showcasing that track? We thought the season finale would do just that.”
Why do it in 2020 instead of 2021?
This is the teaser to the 2021 schedule. Next year, the gates open wide open as track contracts expire. At that point, NASCAR can made bolder changes without consent from the race tracks.
So, why did they work so hard to make big changes in 2020 instead of just waiting until 2021?
“I think a lot of the moves were made looking ahead. But, we have a lot to look at for 2021. We did make some of these moves on where we could be in the future.”
“We’ve heard from a lot of the fans. Obviously, we’re never going to please everyone. Half the fans will love it and half of them won’t like it. We understand that.”
“But, we also felt like it was time for a change. We could continue to wait. But, the tracks were very willing to make a move. Our TV partners helped push us along as well.”
“The timing was right from an industry standpoint to try some things. These may not be the be-all end-all for 2021. But, we could have some good learnings and build on some of the things that we thought worked for the fans.”