The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series schedule will offer a variety of changes that are set to spice up the action and create fan interest.
Drivers will race under the lights for the first time at Martinsville Speedway in May, Daytona International Speedway is home to the regular-season finale in August and Bristol Motor Speedway’s night race sneaks into the NASCAR Playoffs, just to name a few.
But with all the swaps in the 36-race stretch, how is it even possible to pick one you’re looking forward to the most? Well, NASCAR.com’s Pat DeCola and Chase Wilhelm take a crack at it.
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DECOLA: I’m well aware I named the finale at Phoenix Raceway as the most impactful change for the 2020 schedule on Wednesday — and trust me, I’m looking forward to that one, too — but scanning up and down the schedule, I can’t help but land on Daytona’s summer race as the one I’m circling.
Superspeedway racing has always been incredibly captivating to me as-is. Moving Daytona’s summer event from its traditional July 4 weekend to later on in the schedule … so it can be the regular-season cutoff? If I wasn’t already sitting down while typing this, I most certainly would need to.
I think we’ll definitely see some drivers attempt to play it safe, hoping they can get through and advance on points if they’re on the good side of the bubble. I also expect that tactic will quickly dissipate as every driver in the top 30 in points who needs a win scrambles to get to and stay at the front. Superspeedways are the great equalizer among the field and putting one in position to be the last opportunity to make the playoffs only ramps up the excitement.
Just imagine a scenario where someone like Corey LaJoie — who placed 29th in points last year but finished in sixth place in the second Daytona race — makes the playoffs because of a last-ditch, last-lap effort at the “World Center of Racing.” Pure madness. Pure entertainment.
WILHELM: NASCAR Cup Series racing at Martinsville from start to finish under the lights … do I really need to say more?
This is what we’ve all been waiting for since the installation of the track’s state-of-the-art LED lighting system in 2017. We’ve seen three NASCAR Playoffs races end under them, and all of them had about as much drama as we could handle.
In 2017, Denny Hamlin bumped Chase Elliott out of the way for the lead, sending Elliott into the outside wall and a heated confrontation between the two after the race. More of the same came in 2018 when it was a head-to-head battle to the finish line between Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr., as Logano took the victory, leaving Truex heated on pit road after the race. As for 2019, it was Hamlin and Logano left ready to throw hands on pit road after an on-track incident late in the race.
When the lights come on for the green flag in May at the 0.526-mile Virginia short track, we can grab a Martinsville hot dog, sit back and watch tempers flare as history is made.