Aric Almirola believes racing mid-week would resonate well with NASCAR fans.
“Fans who worked all day can come home, eat dinner and then relax on the couch while we put on a show,” said Almirola. “I think it would be pretty cool for them.”
There has not yet been an updated schedule released by NASCAR on when and how it plans on making up the seven (so far) postponed Cup Series races. Speaking after the decision was made to halt racing, NASCAR President Steve Phelps only offered that there is the intention to run all the races, and officials will weigh all options on how to do that.
Options include racing mid-week, and doubleheaders. The sport is already scheduled for a doubleheader weekend at Pocono Raceway in late June, with a Cup Series race held on Saturday and Sunday.
Relaunching his radio show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio earlier this week, Kevin Harvick brought up questions that NASCAR will have to answer when racing does return. What will the format be when it comes to qualifying and practice? Will teams lose practice but get to qualify? When it comes to change and trying something new, Harvick has long been a supporter.
“When it comes to the 2021 schedule, NASCAR was already looking outside the box of things we can do differently,” he said. “Out of necessity, how we configure race weekends and when we race will have to be figured out for when we get back to racing this year. It’s actually not a bad thing. Change is different, but it can be good, and we’ll have to think differently and be open-minded to what the rest of this year’s schedule ends up looking like.”
Clint Bowyer said an eyebrow was raised, and the door was opened for one-day shows with what was speculated to be the schedule for Atlanta. While it never became official, there were whispers that NASCAR was leaning toward holding qualifying and racing in one day without any practice time.
“I was fine with it,” said Bowyer. “You know, we need to do whatever we can do to put on a show for all these fans across the country. If all we have time for is a one-day show, then so be it. I think we can provide enough bang for their buck.”
NASCAR is going to have to be flexible once it can start holding events again, although the already-narrow window is made even smaller through the desire to avoid holding double-headers at playoff tracks.
A return at Martinsville Speedway in early May also seems optimistic given the stay at home order issued by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. The order goes into effect Monday, March 30, and will last for 30 days – which will prevent most teams from getting near their cars for a month.
But even before the stay at home order became a reality, teams were already scrambling to prepare. The hardest part of which was planning for races without knowing when they will be run.
“So, not knowing what the schedule is, is very concerning,” said Jerry Freeze of Front Row Motorsports. “It’s more concerning that you don’t know with absolute certainty that you will be starting again on May the 9th. That’s the biggest concern for sure, and the revenue piece and all that. We’re sitting here, and we know we have a good piece that we were going to take to Richmond, now we’re going to take to Martinsville. Well, what happens if Richmond is now the next week after Martinsville?
“There’s just a lot of questions of what the schedule is going to be, and therefore what does your car preparation need to be?”
Added Almirola, “We’re talking about running races on the weekend, then midweek, then another the following weekend. If we do that, running three races in a week is going to be a lot. Recovering after the race and getting your body and mind prepped for the next race in a short period of time will be important. I’m focused on eating right, getting plenty of protein, and staying in shape to be as ready as possible for whatever this season has in store for us.”