NASCAR’s goal for the 2020 season remains the same

Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images) /

NASCAR still intends to run all 36 races on the 2020 Cup Series schedule, despite the additional postponement of the race at Martinsville Speedway in May.

There wasn’t anybody who didn’t see NASCAR‘s Friday announcement coming. The race at Martinsville Speedway, which had been scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 9 under the lights, has been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It has now been almost six weeks since there was last any NASCAR action in real life. The most recent Cup Series race took place at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, March 8, which was now 41 days ago.

This pandemic brought the sports world to a screeching halt, and while there were beliefs that NASCAR could still run races without fans, the season ended up being suspended indefinitely.

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Plans to run the races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway in front of empty grandstands were scrapped, and the next five races on the schedule were abandoned for now as well, several weeks prior to Friday’s announcement.

These races were set to take place at Texas Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Richmond Raceway, Talladega Superspeedway and Dover International Speedway, from the end of March to the beginning of May.

But even amid NASCAR’s announcement of the eighth postponed Cup Series race of the season, their goal remained the same: run all 36 scheduled Cup Series races in 2020.

“NASCAR is postponing the scheduled events on May 8-9 at Martinsville Speedway,” a NASCAR press release stated. “Our intention remains to run all 36 races, with a potential return to racing without fans in attendance in May at a date and location to be determined. The health and safety of our competitors, employees, fans, and the communities in which we run continues to be our top priority. We will continue to consult with health experts and local, state and federal officials as we assess future scheduling options.”

With four races down and eight more postponed indefinitely, only 24 of the 32 races that haven’t been run this year are officially still on the 36-race schedule at this point. A few of these 24 races could potentially be shifted around as well to fit in each of the eight postponed races.

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NASCAR recently released a “best-case” scenario schedule to select sources, and the Martinsville Speedway postponement was already factored into that 36-race slate, meaning that really nothing has changed from a big-picture standpoint, aside of the public confirmation that the four-turn, 0.526-mile (0.847-kilometer) oval in Ridgeway, Virginia won’t be hosting a race in three weeks. An official updated schedule is expected to be released in the near future.