Jim France wanted to make bold changes with the 2020 schedule; New markets open the door for bigger changes in 2021
Lengthy track contracts have NASCAR within a box. It prevents them from just adding new tracks to their schedule.
The changes for 2020 came from tracks working together with NASCAR. There’s rules preventing NASCAR from moving a locked in date by more than two weeks. But, the tracks were open to change and helped them make some bold changes with the contracts still in place.
In 2021, a bulk of those track agreements are set to expire. That will open the flood gates wide open for the sanction and give them the option to really shake up the schedule.
However, leading up to the 2020 schedule release, there was talk about adding mid-week races. There’s only so many race weekends in a season. Adding mid-week races could present the option to nearly double the number of events.
It would’ve also opened the door for NASCAR to visit some new tracks before 2021.
It wouldn’t have doubled the schedule. But, it would have allowed NASCAR to pack more races into a shorter season. The season would have ended earlier (with a similar number of races) where NASCAR isn’t competing with Football at the end of a season. That’s the selling point that the drivers council offered when the idea was presented.
But, the 2020 schedule has been released. There’s no mid-week races installed. Instead, there’s one double-header weekend at Pocono Raceway.
But, how come they didn’t go with mid-week races for 2020?
Steve O’Donnell on mid-week races
“We had a lot of deep conversations about mid-week races,” Steve O’Donnell said during a mid-week press conference.
“The challenge there is our fans come from fairly long distances. I lot of them make a 3-day weekend out of it and camp unlike some of the other sports.”
“The idea of moving an existing Saturday or Sunday race to a Wednesday became a real challenge for a race track. As we look forward I think you could look for the potential of that double-header concept.”
“Could you go a Wednesday-Sunday? A potentially new market became better options for us to look at as we look at 2021 and beyond.”
Spreading out the changes
“A lot of this is on Jim France wanting to make some bold moves. Trying to answer some of the asks of the fans.”
“I don’t want to put everything on 2021. This will not be us just pulling different levers each year. I think it will be a gradual change. In my 25 years of NASCAR, this is the biggest change we’ve had, that I can remember.”
“’21, ’22, ’23, what are different advantages that we want to take advantage of? Then, what are tracks and events that are really working for us? We’re confident in the partners we have now with our tracks. They did a lot to make this happen this year.”