Five months into 2020, NASCAR’s 72nd season of existence has been a bizarre season in the making highlighted with a hiatus in racing spanning two months due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. With the season two weeks away from resuming, a major twist to the racing schedule is in the making.
For the first time since 1981, a NASCAR season will feature three points-paying races at a single track as the sport strives to make up the lost time of on-track racing.
On April 30, NASCAR disclosed that Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway will host additional NASCAR national series races throughout the second half of May, totaling to seven in a span of 11 days across the Carolinas.
Darlington will feature two additional Cup races (May 17 & May 20) and an extra Xfinity Series event (May 19) to go along with the Labor Day Weekend events that still includes the Southern 500 for the postseason opener (September 5). Charlotte, additionally, will host an extra Cup race on May 27 three days after the Coca-Cola 600 past Memorial Day Weekend. The NASCAR XFinity Series (May 25) and the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (May 26) will follow coincidentally while the Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval remains as scheduled (October 11).
The last time NASCAR raced at a track three times in a season was at Riverside International Raceway in Riverside, CA, in 1981, where the season raced its opener in January, returned midway into the season in June and added another event in November to conclude the season. This does not, however, mark NASCAR’s only time pulling this feat.
The first track to host three points-paying races in a season was at Carrell Speedway in Gardena, CA, in 1951 during NASCAR’s third season of racing. Among other examples where a track featured three racing events in a season includes:
- Langhorne Speedway (1953).
- Columbia Speedway (1955, 1958-1960).
- Charlotte Speedway (1956).
- Hickory Speedway (1956).
- Portland Speedway (1956-1957).
- Southern States Fairgrounds (1957 & 1959).
- Concord Speedway (1957 & 1962).
- Bowman Gray Stadium (1959-1963).
- Asheville-Weaverville Speedway (1959).
- Martinsville Speedway (1961).
The featured events at Darlington and Charlotte will mark NASCAR’s return to on-track racing since the week of March 6-8 at Phoenix Raceway. NASCAR was also intent on racing the following week at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but the racing activities for the weekend were postponed due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Other postponements that followed suit in the spring included Homestead-Miami Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Richmond Raceway, Talladega Superspeedway, Dover International Speedway and Martinsville Speedway.
An announcement for the remainder of this year’s NASCAR national series schedule has not been determined, though the sanctioning body intends to hold all 36 Cup races this season, including the postseason as originally scheduled from September through November.