On a Tuesday conference call, NASCAR President Steve Phelps announced that the series intends to run all 36 races on the schedule and would like to get all of the postponed races in the books before the playoffs begin.
“We intend to race all our 36 points races as well as the All Star event,” Phelps told reporters. “What those look like at this particular point we're looking broadly about what our options are. At this particular point we would like to finish the season at Phoenix and keep the Playoff portion intact. With that said, it will require a lot of different opportunities for us to look at.
“We're in the process of doing that.”
NASCAR has announced they intend to return to racing in time for Martinsville, which was scheduled to be the 12th races on the calendar.
The races that will need to be made up are Atlanta, Homestead, Texas, Bristol, Richmond, Talladega, and Dover.
“I think the way we view this is kind of how we view Atlanta, which is we need to make sure that we are keeping our competitors and those that are at the racetracks, our race teams, our officials, we need to have the health of those folks paramount for us.
“Would we consider racing without fans at some point the to get back racing more quickly without fans? That's in the consideration set. I don't know. It's changing so rapidly, what it means for mass gatherings, what's that number. Again, we'll work with our health officials.”
One of the measures under consideration to get the races in is the further use of double headers. This season was to mark the first time NASCAR races a double header when it visited Pocono in late June. Unless NASCAR changes the schedule to create more double-headers among races that have not been impacted by pandemic postponements, however, Dover is the only multi-event track that does not host a playoff race.
Michigan’s two races could potentially be merged, since they are already close to one another on the schedule with events in June and August.
That leaves the option of midweek races on the table. Bristol and Richmond are in close enough proximity to one another and other courses on the schedule that one the short tracks could become a Wednesday affair – especially if bracketed by a Saturday race on one end and a Sunday event on the other.
“No specifics around midweek races,” Phelps said. “I've heard about doubleheaders, different things. At this particular point a lot of things on the table for us to look at, working with our race teams, working with our racetracks to make sure the things that we're putting on the table are feasible for us to do.”
NASCAR also scheduled a two-week break for the Olympics in July that could be utilized, although the television landscape could be very crowded with NBC broadcasting both the Olympics and NASCAR at that time.
If NASCAR can achieve their goal of getting all 26 regular season races in the books before the playoffs, that will mean squeezing 21 races into 17 weeks or delaying the start of the playoffs and extending the season beyond Thanksgiving.
One thing is certain, when NASCAR returns to action, players are going to have a lot of gaming to make up in a relatively short period of time.