Roundtable: What the 2020 schedule changes mean for NASCAR

On this week's NASCAR Roundtable, we take a look at the schedule changes for the 2020 season and what it could mean for the sport.

Roundtable: What the 2020 schedule changes mean for NASCAR
NASCAR Vice-Chairman Mike Helton
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Monster Energy / Haas Automation, Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Fusion Shell Pennzoil and Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Fusion Miller Lite green flag start
Steve O'Donnell
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Jimmy John's start
A view of the grandstands
Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Pennzoil, celebrates  victory lane after winning the Pennzoil 400.
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry FedEx Express celebrates in victory lane, Joe Gibbs
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Reese/DrawTite
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Reese/DrawTite
Race Winner Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Reese/DrawTite
Race Winner Cole Custer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Thompson Pipe/Haas CNC
Race Winner Cole Custer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Thompson Pipe/Haas CNC
Cole Custer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Haas Automation
Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Supra Rheem
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Supra iK9
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Supra iK9, Cole Custer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Thompson Pipe/Haas CNC
Listen to this article

What do you think is the most impactful change in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series schedule?

Jim Utter: While there were many date changes, I think the biggest, long-term and most impactful change is the first steps have now been taken to shorten the season. Even with two weeks off in the summer for the Cup series, the season will end on Nov. 8 next year. And even without changing dates, removing the two week summer break (which is for NBC's coverage of the Olympics) in 2021, would get the season to end at the end of October that year. If you condensed both Daytona Speedweeks and the May races at Charlotte both into one week each, you could easily bring the schedule to close in mid-October. That seems to be the biggest goal for everyone involved.

Nick DeGroot: The playoff changes stand out to me. There are now just four 1.5 milers in the postseason with Bristol and Darlington joining the playoffs. Martinsville as the penultimate race of the season is going to make for some sensational moments and even more 'wow' moments than we've had in recent years. The move from Homestead to Phoenix is a head-scratcher to me as that race seem to fit perfectly as the title-decider and I doubt Phoenix can live up to what Homestead has produced. I just hope this is a sign of their willingness to make real change once the five-year agreement with the tracks are up so we can get some exciting new circuits on the schedule -- especially more road courses.

Tim Southers: I think there are two impacts that should be noted and remembered are, the shortening of the schedulel by two weeks and the first doubleheader weekend to be held at Pocono Raceway. I think if the doubleheader works for the track there could be a couple of other tracks to possibly look at trying that. My first thought would be Charlotte Motor Speedway with the All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600.

Brad Keselowski dominated the race at Martinsville on Sunday to join Kyle Busch as the only other multi-race winner this season. Between Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin, who do you think will be the next multi-race winner in Cup?

Jim: While I expect Logano to be good at Texas, I don't think we will see another multi-race winner anytime soon. If we do, I feel it will be Logano. But with the opportunity now for teams to make adjustments to their intermediate cars following the West Coast swing and some short track races ahead, I expect to see some more varied winners in the coming weeks.

Nick: Joey Logano has the better shot, but I suspect someone else will rise up and take a couple checkered flags before either of them. Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick have yet to win this year and will surely find Victory Lane soon enough.

Tim: To me Joey Logano seems the most likely to get a second win this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. He’s been fast all year and he has a good history of running well at Texas so I think he could be the next to win two Cup Series races this season between he and Denny Hamlin.

The race at Martinsville Speedway was tame by Martinsville standards. What do you think contributed to that on Sunday?

Jim: Sunday's race looked eerily similar to the one a year ago in the spring that was an absolute dud. The excuse for that race was that it was run on Monday because of a snowstorm and the week after was an off-week and everybody "just wanted to get home." There was no such excuse for Sunday - the weather was perfect and there's another race on the schedule this week. I don't believe a change in downforce (that isn't any different than what was run in 2014), suddenly changed the race, either. Perhaps it's because there isn't near as much on the line in the spring as the fall race, which falls in the semifinal round of the playoffs. In other words, it may well still have been in the drivers' hands.

Nick: As Jim said, last spring's Martinsville race was similar, so I'd just chalk it up to some races just aren't memorable. I'm sure the second Martinsville race in the playoffs will be another thriller, so I wouldn't sweat it. Not much the drivers can do when someone is as dominant as Brad Keselowski was.

Tim: While Brad Keselowski dominated leading over 450 laps, I thought Chase Elliott had a car capable of challenging for the win and he did. I agree with Jim, in the spring there is still a lot of racing to go this season and drivers aren’t as likely to take risks. Now the fall race with a playoff berth to advance on the line, I think we’ll see more aggressive racing.

Cole Custer won at Auto Club Speedway in the most recent Xfinity Series race and won at Texas last November. Can he make it two in a row there this weekend? If not, who do you think his strongest challenger will be in the Xfinity Series race?

Jim: I'm not sure Custer is ready to be a weekly challenger to Christopher Bell for wins in the Xfinity Series, but he sure took a big step in that direction with his performance in California. He has been a consistent performance but up to know not consistent in being in position to win. With a track this week on which he has won, I would not be surprised with another victory and another move toward being a strong challenger for the Xfinity championship this season.

Nick: It would be foolish to discount Christopher Bell, but of course, Kyle Busch is there as well. If anyone else wants to win, they'll have to go through that No. 18 first.

Tim: I think he showed his team’s strength at California and Custer should have plenty of confidence entering the race at Texas this weekend. I think if he wins this weekend he’ll have the wins and confidence to be one of the main challengers for the title along with Christopher Bell and other for playoff run in the fall.

shares
comments
XCI Racing debuts at Texas with "confident" Jeffrey Earnhardt
Previous article

XCI Racing debuts at Texas with "confident" Jeffrey Earnhardt

Next article

Greg Biffle's NASCAR Truck Series return "a bit intimidating"

Greg Biffle's NASCAR Truck Series return "a bit intimidating"
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Prime

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

NASCAR Cup
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Prime

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR Cup
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Prime

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his teammate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Prime

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR Cup
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival Prime

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major engine overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021