Why the NFL’s planned return is great news for race fans

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs, NFL(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs, NFL(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

The NFL plans to open up the 2020 season on time. Here’s why that news is particularly good for fans of NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula 1.

The NFL recently announced plans to open up the 16-game 2020 season on time amid concerns of player health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic, and Thursday, August 6 was the deadline for players to opt out of this season in order to receive a stipend from the owners instead of their regular salaries.

The season is still scheduled to get underway on Thursday, September 10 at Arrowhead Stadium, with the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs set to host the Houston Texans. Super Bowl LV is still scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 7, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

This is great news for racing fans who also happen to be football fans, as the first few weeks of the NFL season are slated to see very little overlap with the NASCAR Cup Series, NTT IndyCar Series and Formula 1 schedules.

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With a delayed season, this would not have been the case.

These three different forms of motorsport have each been back in action following the unexpected hiatus caused by the pandemic for several weeks/months now.

NASCAR led the way over nearly three months ago on Sunday, May 17, IndyCar followed suit over two months ago on Saturday, June 6 and Formula joined them just over one month ago on Sunday, July 5. Since they returned back, competition for viewership has been minimal when it comes to other sports, since other leagues are only just starting to get back up and running.

Fortunately, this should actually remain the case in the early stages of the NFL season, even with as many as 10 games going on at once during the first (1:00 p.m. ET) window. The 10-race Cup Series playoffs are scheduled to begin on Sunday, September 6 at Darlington Raceway, the week before the first Sunday of the NFL season.

The next two races are Saturday night races, with Richmond Raceway slated to host an event on Saturday, September 12 and Bristol Motor Speedway slated to host an event on Saturday, September 19.

Then the first Sunday race of the playoffs, which is slated to take place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during Week 3 of the NFL season on Sunday, September 27, isn’t scheduled to get underway until around 7:30 p.m. ET, at which point many games in the second (4:05 p.m. ET) window will have wrapped up.

The only competition will be Sunday Night Football, which is set to feature the Green Bay Packers making a trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for a battle with the New Orleans Saints. But for fans with more than one screen, this still won’t be an issue.

Unfortunately, the final six races of the Cup Series season are all scheduled to begin at either 2:00 p.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. ET or 3:00 p.m. ET on Sundays, which isn’t optimal for NFL fans. But at least we have until Week 4 to wait before that becomes an issue.

Additionally, IndyCar recently saw more schedule changes that involved the removal of three races from the schedule and the creation of three doubleheaders to make up for those lost races.

All three of the canceled races were scheduled to take place in September while one of the newly created doubleheaders are scheduled to take place in August and another is scheduled to take place in October.

The other one had also been scheduled to take place in August at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend, but that has been postponed to an unspecified September or October date.

As a result, IndyCar is currently without any September races. As of now, the only Sunday race during NFL season is the season finale, which is scheduled to take place on October 25 (NFL Week 7).

Even if rescheduled to a date during the NFL season, no more than one of the two Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course races should conflict. There is a chance that these two races will be run on a Friday and a Saturday as well, which would cause no overlap with the NFL.

As for Formula 1, the sport recently canceled its trip to the Americas for 2020 and announced three new European races. As a result, the United States Grand Prix, the Canadian Grand Prix, the Mexican Grand Prix and the Brazilian Grand Prix will not happen this year.

These are the only four races on the schedule which would have taken place during the traditional Sunday NFL game windows (1:00 p.m. ET and 4:05 p.m. ET). All of the other races on the schedule take place in the morning (ET), and that should remain the case this year.

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Hopefully, for the sake of all racing fans, all NFL fans and all fans of both, none of these seasons end up being further impacted by the threat of COVID-19.