Nascar shakes up 2020 season to freshen stagnant schedule

In an attempt to liven up its “stale” schedule, Nascar announced a series of changes to the 2020 regular season and play-offs on Tuesday.

Organisers were limited with what they could do as Nascar is unable to add or subtract new venues from the schedule until 2021 when a series of contracts with track operators expire.

Among the changes agreed, the 2020 season will end a week earlier than usual, on November 8, while the championship race will be held for the first time at the newly-renovated ISM Raceway near Phoenix, Arizona.

The annual West Coast swing – Las Vegas, Fontana and Phoenix – will begin one week earlier, with the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway moving back to March to try to ensure better weather at the venue.

A Cup Series double-header will be held at Pocono Raceway, with races on both Saturday and Sunday of the same weekend in June, while Martinsville Speedway will hold a race on Saturday night prime time during Mother’s Day Weekend in May.

The schedule also includes consecutive weekends off for the first time in the modern era so that broadcast partner NBC Sports can focus on the Tokyo Olympics.

“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 a result of unprecedented consensus-building with our race tracks and broadcast partners; something we look to continue into 2021 and beyond.”

The changes will be welcomed by Nascar observers, who have long called for structural tweaks to help revive the beleaguered stock car racing series.

Read this: Nascar searching for new ways to return to relevance after decade of decline