Waiting for Charlotte.
This month has long been NASCAR’s homecoming, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. But change is coming to the schedule, a small shift next year and then a possible sea change in years to come.
And May will be affected, a little a first and then a lot.
For now, though, we wait for Charlotte and head to the oddest outpost in Cup racing.
Of all the decisions made by NASCAR in the heady days of the late '90s, the move to Kansas had to be the craziest. No, take that back. The craziest idea was to give Kansas a second race in 2011.
A year from now, we’ll be going to Martinsville for the spring race. That’s not actually a new idea. The spring race at Martinsville was originally a May race before they pushed it into April and then March.
Next year, it returns to its warmer spot on the schedule, the week before the All-Star Race. Kansas will move to the week after the 600.
NASCAR has long needed a few tweaks in the schedule, and next year might be a transition into major changes. Many tracks on the Cup tour are anticipating big announcements in the coming years, altering the current slate with more movement of races, likely elimination of dates, a possible trimming of the schedule and even the long-anticipated moving of the All-Star Race.
It has to happen. And everyone knows it.
With the downward trend of attendance in NASCAR, two races back-to-back, even at Charlotte, is one too many. And with Martinsville moving to Mother’s Day weekend, that’s spreading the North Carolina race fans way too thin.
So tracks are coming up with new ideas, including Kansas, which will run its last night race Saturday. When it moves to its new spot on the schedule, it will be on a Sunday afternoon. To tell the truth, though, that was mandated by Fox Sports, which doesn’t want three straight night races in May anymore.
So next year at this time we’ll be getting ready for Martinsville. A year after that is when things will get really interesting, and we can even begin to guess where the All-Star Race will land first.
Since Charlotte, Martinsville and Kansas are out, that leaves only a couple of possibilities. And one of them is the best idea of them all.
Sometimes change is good.
And sometimes it’s Kansas.