An Objective Look at the 2020 Schedule
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and as always a cordial “Hey there” to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR on this beautiful sunny day in the North Georgia hills. We had a bit of news on Tuesday, that governs what this column will deal with, as I’m being held to a promise to give the world my “take” on the 2020 NASCAR schedule. In reality, I’m not at all sure I’m entitled to have a “take” on it. I wasn’t consulted on the shaping of it, though I do tend to be rather vocal in places where all are free to read my thoughts… always offered without charge.
If we’re to discuss the schedule, we must first see the schedule. Below is a copy, courtesy of @Jayski/Twitter.
The first thing we see is that the Daytona 500 will still open the season though rumors are that well might not be the case in 2021. Following the iconic 500, we go directly into that West-coast swing, coming back not to Martinsville, but to Atlanta in a bit better spot than she’s been in recently. Following Atlanta, we go to Homestead! No, this isn’t a second race for that girl. She’s losing her spot as the final deciding race for the “Final Four.” (Gotta get those NBA terms in there)
When we leave Homestead, we go back out west to Texas, then back east for Bristol followed by Easter Sunday. Call me crazy but I’ve never understood why the cars leave the west coast and drive practically by Texas Motor Speedway only to return to it a week or two later. I really thought that one might get fixed in this set of “Sweeping”, “Dynamic” changes. It did not.
Just a minor gripe there… hardly enough to cause a ripple in still water. Then it’s Richmond, Talladega and Dover, pretty much unchanged… but WHAT have we here? Why it’s Martinsville and she’s going to host a race under the lights on the Saturday evening of the Mothers’ Day weekend. Nice bit of work there Clay Campbell! Almost sure to be warmer in May than in March. Breaks my heart to see those empty seats, at least two of which were ours in younger days!
So far, your scribe has found very little to complain about, but we’re only up to May. The weekend following Martinsville is that thing we call an All-Star race. The twisted, convoluted rules used to shape it allow most everyone but the janitor of the men’s room to run in it. My first really constructive offering would be to run that thing the Wednesday before the Charlotte race, thereby freeing up another weekend. Shortening the schedule is said to be the desired end. That’s a race that I doubt too many would lament were it to disappear from the schedule entirely. Marcus Smith might argue that point, but really… it’s time.
Kansas, Michigan, Sonoma and Chicago proceed without any discernable disruption… then it’s Pocono! She is scheduled to host TWO Cup races, one Saturday and another on Sunday of the same weekend. This is one of the things I’ve heard a lot of complaints about… all of which are unfounded, since we don’t know yet exactly what will be going down in those Pennsylvania Mountains at the end of June of next year. Please relax your wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth until you at least know what demon you’re attempting to cast out.
That said, I will tell you what I know, though it might or might not have any bearing on the actual plans for pulling off this coup well away from the Charlotte/Mooresville home base for most involved. Folks at Pocono have never been stupid. They hear you crying for short tracks and road courses and the younger Igdalsky has shown us diagrams of a variety of road course layouts already in place in her infield. First thing I heard was how that would drive the fans out of the infield. Horse Hockey! Have you ever been in that infield? You could build TOWNS (plural) in there without disturbing the fans! That track is so big that from our seats way up in the Terrace Club, using 8X50 Naval binoculars, you can’t tell there is a turn at turn two, which is a 90-degree right-angle turn. It’s every bit as big as Indy and they easily run a road course in that infield.
What say we don’t complain until we know what the heck we’re complaining about?
Then it’s Indy, Kentucky and New Hampshire… that’s a trio they could cut from the schedule in one “swell foop” and just be done with them. Your results may vary. Oh wait… what’s this? TWO OFF weeks in a row? Be happy for that. NBC had a scheduling problem with a little thing called the Summer Olympics. If we kept one of those weeks, someone would wind up with a race only seen on USA or maybe CNBC. Back to normalcy with Michigan and Watkins Glen, then Dover has been moved from the Chase/Playoff thing, and the “regular season” culminates with Daytona, which came up missing on the 4th of July weekend with that pearl going to Indy.
Lots of complaining about a “Plate track” being the closing race of the regular season. Ah, but Sherlock, you forget… there are no more restrictor plates… just those innocent little things we call tapered spacers. We’ve yet to see that new “package” on one of the giant tracks, so I’m holding back any judgment until at least after Talladega.
We’ve now arrived at that Chase/Playoff thing, and it starts right off with the track that Dover was moved back for… The Track Too Tough To Tame… The Lady in Black… Darlington Raceway, and if ever there was a track that should be in the Playoffs, it’s this one! It’s an interesting trio that wind up as eliminator tracks this year. Bristol, Charlotte, which I do hope is back on the Roval again and Martinsville… two short tracks and a road course! I only hope they’re listening as well come time for that 2021 schedule, when new tracks will be added and some of the existing ones will almost certainly find themselves outside the gate, looking in.
The only track I haven’t mentioned is the final one… the track that will decide which of the phony “Final Four” will be NASCAR’s phony Champion. That honor has been moved to Phoenix, another ISC track upon which they just spent $Mega-millions to make it more “Fan friendly”, and of course to increase its ability to host events other than auto races. That is the wave of the future… multi-purpose facilities. Despite all those France dollars being poured into “ISM”, she’s still Phoenix and still a flat one-mile track. Because of lack of banking, those do not lend well to good racing with the heavy stock cars we run. Still, I’m thinking it’s perhaps only for a year, as in 2021 there is every reason to believe that Nashville Fairgrounds Track will be ready to rejoin NASCAR as a Cup track and ending the season there, where the Banquet has already been moved to, just makes really great sense to me.
So… that’s all I’ve got for this week. I’m not upset about anything on the new schedule, and with a couple exceptions, like the double at Pocono, it’s pretty much what I was expecting. I do wish though, that they’d stifle some of the superlative adjectives about what vast changes have been made. No, they haven’t. For now though, I’d say with hands tied by contracts, they did a pretty fair job of shuffling ‘em up and dealing ‘em out one more time. Good job NASCAR!
Time now for our Classic Country Closeout and for your listening pleasure I’ve found a small collection of really Classic Country from the decade of the 1940s. Please enjoy…
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!