Darlington Raceway, NASCAR, Cup Sequence (Photograph by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Pictures)
It doesn’t matter what occurred within the first 4 races of the NASCAR season. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, you may mainly hit the reset change.
Like everybody, I used to be tremendous pumped to have NASCAR again. The schedule adjustments NASCAR introduced weren’t too daring and truly made sense: maintain 4 races at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway (together with the Coca-Cola 600) after which mainly keep it up with the remainder of the season, with returns to most of the tracks that noticed races postponed as a result of coronavirus pandemic within the center.
Earlier than the pandemic, the races have been truly fairly intense and thrilling. I used to be actually cheering on Matt DiBenedetto at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. There was a variety of shut racing, and there have been loads of unknowns when it comes to who would win every week.
Then the pandemic hit, and all of dwell sports activities went on pause. This pause felt like an prolonged offseason, and there was a ton of anticipation constructing. From what we noticed within the first 4 races, followers have been dying to see extra.
NASCAR was among the many first professional sports activities leagues to completely announce plans to come back again.
Some would argue they did it too quickly, as COVID-19 continues to be hitting the USA laborious.
However NASCAR did so with security in thoughts: implementing social distancing, permitting no followers in attendance, and having race groups thought of important companies in order that the workers can return to work and get totally in gear.
When Sunday, Could 17 lastly got here and the inexperienced flag lastly waved once more at Darlington Raceway, the motion actually didn’t quiet down over the stoppage in motion.
There have been a number of drivers who made an impression early on. Alex Bowman is the primary to come back to thoughts. The Actual Heroes 400 actually felt regular if you happen to ask me. It was a pleasant escape from the whole lot occurring on the earth.
It actually felt like NASCAR is again.
Then got here Wednesday night time. Should you thought Sunday afternoon was loopy, then take that race, shorten it, and put it in prime time underneath the lights. It was cranked to eleven.
There have been so many new storylines that developed to make the 2020 season distinctive when in comparison with the common seasons of the final two or three years. A brand new rivalry was created involving Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott (I sense Busch/Dale Jr. 2.zero brewing). DiBenedetto recorded one other prime ten end.
Matt Kenseth is even slowly returning to kind, as he completed in 10th place on Sunday and ran properly Wednesday earlier than a late incident (I suppose I used to be confirmed mistaken).
Lastly, viewership is again up since NASCAR has the stage all to themselves with no different main sports activities again aside from UFC and Bundesliga Soccer.
Sunday’s race reached over 6.three million viewers. It was probably the most watched aggressive sporting occasion on tv for the reason that 2020 Daytona 500, and it was probably the most watched non-Daytona NASCAR Cup Sequence race for the reason that race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March of 2017.
We don’t know the numbers from Wednesday night time, however I believe they’re related if not higher than Sunday. And in the event that they’re not but, after Wednesday night time, they probably might be within the close to future.
Subsequent: NASCAR Cup Sequence: eight tracks so as to add to the schedule
I’d wish to suppose that the primary 4 NASCAR Cup Sequence races have been simply preseason earlier than a brief 70-day offseason. Now’s when the common season and a powerful begin matter greater than ever. I believe we will now formally say, “welcome to the 2020 NASCAR Cup Sequence season”.