A change in the championship venue, a two-fer weekend at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, and big moves for the playoff races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series highlight sweeping changes announced by officials with the sanctioning body on Tuesday.
The 23 venues are the same – those might or might not change next year with the end of the five-year contracts between NASCAR and the individual race tracks. But the order in which they fall on the schedule has undergone a major shift.
The 2020 title-determining race, dubbed the Championship 4, previously contested at Homestead-Miami Speedway will now be held at the newly renovated ISM Raceway in Avondale, Ariz.
The date of the event, Nov. 8, is also a change with the season officially ending a week earlier.
The Arizona facility, one of 12 NASCAR-sanctioned tracks owned by International Speedway Corp., recently underwent a $172 million renovation.
Homestead will host its lone Cup race March 22.
Cut-off races for the 16-team, 10-race playoffs have also shifted –Darlington will now open the playoffs on Sept. 6 while Bristol’s night race moves to Sept. 19 for the final race of the opening round. Charlotte Motor Speedway will now host the final race of the Round of Eight on its Roval (Oct. 11); and the final race of the third round will now be at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Nov. 1.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said that “fans and the industry as a whole have been vocal about the desire for sweeping changes … and the 2020 slate is a reflection of our efforts to execute against that feedback.”
Meanwhile, Pocono Raceway will hold both of its annual MENCS races on the same weekend – Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28. The 2.5-mile venue has typically had about a five-week window in between its two Cup events.
Other notable movement in the schedule will include:
• Daytona will continue to host the season-opening Daytona 500, but the second race at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, held in conjunction with the July 4th holiday weekend since 1959, will move to Saturday, Aug. 29 and serve as the final regular-season event.
• Atlanta Motor Speedway gets a later date and potential weather break with a move to March 15; Martinsville’s first Cup race will be held on Saturday, May 9, the day before Mother’s Day, and will be contested under the lights; Indianapolis Motor Speedway replaces Daytona as the July 4th holiday weekend race.
The 2020 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Schedule:
Sunday, Feb. 9 – The Clash (Daytona)
Thur., Feb. 13 – Duel at Daytona
Sun., Feb. 16 – Daytona International Speedway
Sun., Feb. 23 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Sun., March 1 – Auto Club Speedway
Sun., March 8 – ISM Raceway
Sun., March 15 – Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sun., March 22 – Homestead-Miami Speedway
Sun., March 29 – Texas Motor Speedway
Sun., April 5 – Bristol Motor Speedway
Sun., April 19 – Richmond Raceway
Sun., April 26 – Talladega Superspeedway
Sun., May 3 – Dover International Speedway
Sat., May 9 – Martinsville Speedway
Sat., May 16 – All-Star Race, Charlotte Motor Speedway
Sun., May 24 – Charlotte Motor Speedway
Sun., May 31 – Kansas Speedway
Sun., June 7 – Michigan International Speedway
Sun., June 14 – Sonoma Raceway
Sun., June 21 – Chicagoland Speedway
Sat., June 27 – Pocono Raceway
Sun., June 28 – Pocono Raceway
Sun., July 5 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Sat., July 11 – Kentucky Speedway
Sun., July 19 – New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Sun., Aug. 9 – Michigan International Speedway
Sun., Aug. 16 – Watkins Glen International
Sun., Aug. 23 – Dover International Speedway
Sat., Aug. 29 – Daytona International Speedway
Sun., Sept. 6 – Darlington Raceway
Sat., Sept. 12 – Richmond Raceway
Sat., Sept. 19 – Bristol Motor Speedway
Sun., Sept. 27 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Sun., Oct. 4 – Talladega Superspeedway
Sun., Oct. 11 – Charlotte Motor Speedway
Sun., Oct. 18 – Kansas Speedway
Sun., Oct. 25 – Texas Motor Speedway
Sun., Nov. 1 – Martinsville Speedway
Sun., Nov. 8 – ISM Raceway