The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season will see a plethora of changes on the schedule come to life.
Some of those changes include: Martinsville Speedway’s first night race in May and a national tripleheader in November, the Pocono Raceway doubleheader in June, Indianapolis Motor Speedway moving back to July, Daytona International Speedway’s second date shifting to the playoff cutoff race in August, Darlington Raceway’s throwback weekend kicking off the NASCAR Playoffs and Bristol Motor Speedway’s night race in the postseason.
With all the highly anticipated new race dates coming up, which one will provide the most impact? NASCAR.com’s Pat DeCola and Chase Wilhelm debate.
DECOLA: Lots of the changes coming in 2020 rank high on the uniqueness/intriguing scale — Daytona as the playoffs cutoff, Pocono’s doubleheader, etc. — but to me, the most impactful change is where the championship will be decided: Phoenix Raceway.
After several years of Homestead-Miami Speedway putting on thrilling finale after thrilling finale, the bar will be set high out in Arizona. It’s one I think will be cleared handily, however, particularly after Tuesday’s announcement of a reduced-downforce package for short tracks and road courses specifically designed to enhance competition.
Considering exactly half of the tracks in the 2020 playoffs will be affected by this new rules package, I anticipate some seriously wild races as the season winds down, all culminating with the duel in the desert for the Championship 4. Just think of the story lines and rivalries that will emerge from Bristol and Richmond Raceway under the lights back-to-back weeks and then Martinsville and Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval functioning as round cutoffs.
It seems pretty likely the series won’t be running low on vendettas by the time we head west. Putting a championship trophy on the line while all of those feuds get resolved only adds to the intensity.
WILHELM: Without question, the most notable change, in my opinion, is Daytona‘s second date moving to the final race of the NASCAR Cup Series regular season. The major unknowns a superspeedway race has to offer is the highest spectacle to set the stage for who will make up the 16-driver playoff field.
Every weekend we say anything can, and usually does, happen, but this statement holds a substantial amount of weight for the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Anyone has a chance to win at Daytona. It doesn‘t matter if a driver has dominated the season or hasn‘t produced the results the team had hoped, he still has a chance to make the postseason.
There‘s only one way to eliminate the stress and worry of this race: win in the first 25 races that come before it. But if not, drivers will make any aggressive move possible to make the playoffs on the 2.5-mile high banks. You want edge-of-your-seat, hold-your-breath drama? Well, there we are guaranteed to have it.