When NASCAR and Pocono Raceway announced that the track would host a weekend Cup Series doubleheader, everyone within the sport was curious as to how this would happen. Doubleheaders are something that has been considered but no one made the decision to do it until now and there are a bunch of logistical details on the track, on NASCAR, and on Mother Nature to make it work.
This weekend, Pocono and NASCAR unveiled some of the more general details for the 2020 doubleheader weekend on June 25 to 28. In two days, fans will experience four races from the three NASCAR series, including a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader over the weekend. The most important aspect is the length of the races which will be down from 400 miles to 350. Race 2 is set as a 350 mile race but Race 1 is to be determined.
To summarize, the weekend shifts from Friday to Thursday with ARCA doing all their practice and racing that day. Friday’s schedule contains the usual Saturday fare just without the secondary series race. Friday will be Cup Series practice and qualifying for Race 1 along with Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice.
Saturday will have Xfinity Series practice, and then the Truck race. After the Truck race will be Race 1 in Cup. Sunday will have Xfinity qualifying, the Xfinity race, and Race 2 in Cup (140 laps/350 miles) to close things out. One interesting wrinkle on Race 2 is that the starting lineup will be determined based on Race 1 but lead lap cars will be inverted.
All in all, that’s a lot of racing and it’s essentially combining two race weekends into one. Yes, at least 50 miles in each Cup race goes away but one can argue the fan is getting more racing for less money. For one thing, ticket prices will remain the same, you just have to pay for each day and that would include an additional race. If someone goes to both race weekends, they get to save a full weekend on travel. And if someone only goes to one race weekend, this is their chance to go to the same race weekend but get twice the action.
Some of the more specific details haven’t been finalized yet but there’s still time to figure that out. One important aspect that wasn’t determined yet is a contingency strategy for bad weather. Fans do get their money back if it rains and cannot make it to the rescheduled race but as of now, that hasn’t been determined. One important piece to that puzzle is what time slots the broadcaster (Fox or NBC depending on the series) would have available in order to reschedule and that won’t be determined until closer to the event.
There’s still a bunch of moving parts but as someone who felt that doubleheaders was worth trying, it’s at least great to attempt. Ratings are staying level and slightly rising over last year but NASCAR is looking at ways to give fans a bigger bang for their buck and raise attendance as well as maximize ratings and this seems like an idea worth doing.