When NASCAR President Steve Phillips addressed the media last week about what the future held in store for the Cup Series about the only thing for certain was that the earliest the schedule would resume would be May 9th at Martinsville.
The races at Atlanta, Homestead-Miami, Texas, Bristol, Richmond, Talladega and Dover had already been postponed and a return to racing at Martinsville is by no way a given.
Phillips went on to say during his press conference that the sanctioning body intended to run all 36 points races as well as the All-Star race.
There are seven races that have to be made up if the racing does return at Martinsville but the remainder of the schedule only has two open weekends on June 26 and August 2. That portion of the schedule is televised by NBC and they had to have those two weekends open because of their broadcast of the Olympic Games.
NASCAR would like to finish the season at Phoenix and keep the 10-race Playoff portion of the schedule intact. In order for that to happen the seven races that have already been postponed would have to be rescheduled before the last race of the regular season on September 6th at Darlington Raceway.
There has been so much speculation and rumors about the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule that we may get an early glimpse of what to expect when NASCAR goes back to racing and announces how it will make up the postponed races.
There has always been talk of mid-week races and the series will compete in its first doubleheader weekend later this season at Pocono, so it could be that we may have the rest of this season once it resumes to prepare ourselves for what we might be seeing in 2021.
Doubleheaders may seem like the easiest way to get the races in as four of the postponed races at Texas, Bristol, Richmond and Talladega all have another race later in the season but all four are in the 10-race Playoff portion of the schedule.
By that time of the schedule all of the races that are to be rescheduled will have no bearing on the Playoffs as far as points go and it would be another race that a network would have to go up against either the always TV friendly NFL or college football.
NASCAR’s only other option to get the entire 36-race schedule in would be to hold midweek races which has already been talked about for the last couple of years. Just like the doubleheader races, any race moved to a weekday would have to have the approval of either FOX or NBC.
NASCAR would also have to take in consideration of the location of the following weekend’s race as such a quick turnaround would put a hardship on many of the race teams especially the low budget teams.
There will be no easy solution for making up the races but there is the possibility that the Olympics schedule for the summer may be postponed as Canada became the first nation on Sunday to announce that it would not be sending its athletes.
Many of the United States athletes have voiced their concern about going and it could be that the games will be pushed back to the summer of 2021. While racing every weekend until the final race at Phoenix in November would be very taxing on the teams, it would make the job of getting the full schedule in so much easier.
Of course, all of this is just speculation because the gravity of what is taking place in our country and around the world is so fluid that it seems to change hourly. It’s not about racing, it’s about the safety of my family and yours. It’s about our friends, the country that we love and the life that we all took for granted for so long.
Steve Mickey writes about NASCAR for HD Media.