'Everything is at play' for future NASCAR schedule changes

Image by Whitton/LAT

'Everything is at play' for future NASCAR schedule changes


'Everything is at play' for future NASCAR schedule changes


There is good news for those hoping the 2021 season might bring a freshness to the NASCAR schedule.

“We’re looking at everything,” said incoming NASCAR president Steve Phelps.

New venues, mid-week racing and even doubleheaders have been among the ideas tossed around for NASCAR officials to consider. Conversation has ramped up in recent years that the sport needs a boost by shaking up its look.

However, due to the five-year sanctioning agreements NASCAR signed with its racetracks in late 2015, the schedules are locked in until 2021 at the earliest, with shuffling mostly revolving around date changes, subtracting from one track (New Hampshire) and adding to another (Las Vegas) or Charlotte Motor Speedway going from an oval to road course.

Of course, before making any change Phelps acknowledges discussions will be had within the industry.

“And at the end of the day, we will take all that and cull it down and make a decision we believe is in the best interest of NASCAR,” he said.

Indianapolis held a racing doubleheader with the Xfinity and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on Monday afternoon because of rain. The Eldora race for the Camping World Truck Series is run in the middle of the week, always to high praise.

Recently, eyebrows were raised because of ongoing plans by the Metro government in Nashville to revitalize the Fairgrounds and expressing interesting in bringing NASCAR racing back in town. Rockingham Speedway is also under new ownership. And there continue to be calls to explore other venues around the country, specifically short tracks and road courses.

“I would say that everything is at play,” said Phelps. “So, whether that’s doubleheaders, pulling the schedule forward, back, this, that, it’s all in play, because there are stakeholders that think that’s the right direction to go in.”

Phelps was also asked if the schedule and season need to end earlier than it does. NASCAR begins its season in mid-February and goes until Thanksgiving, with its playoffs positioned head-to-head with football.

“I think there is a lot of discussion about that among the industry and hey, avoid the NFL as much as you can,” Phelps admitted. “Listen, there are a lot of things in play and we would rule out nothing at this particular point.

“But again, we need to make sure we have all the input, have all the information necessary to make an informed decision that will allow us to get to what that [future] schedule would look like.”