HOMESTEAD, Fla – The annual State of the Sports news conference was held on the morning of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. President Steve Phelps spoke on a number of topics with several being eye opening statements.
“If you take stock of where we are, I’d say we had an incredible season,” Phelps said on Sunday from the South Florida race track. “Our competition on intermediate tracks and superspeedways is the best we’ve ever seen.
“The most important stakeholder that we have is our fan base and fan opinion about what is on track is more important than anything else.”
One thing that fans are wanting is a change to the schedule. For starters, the highly anticipated 2021 schedule is looking for a release date next April. While everyone is expecting some wholesale changes, Phelps warns that it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Fans are growing tired of a stagnant schedule. They want change. They want fewer than 36 race weekends and to potentially end the season earlier than mid November. Phelps noted that NASCAR has three main priorities for the 2021 schedule — competitive racing, full grandstands and whether it’s a new market or not.
While NASCAR has already made some changes for the 2020 schedule, he hints that 2021 may not look a whole lot different though. Phelps, notes that the TV contracts run through 2024 and the deals in place are for substance. They signed up for a certain amount of races for a 10 year period and it’s hard to break that three years early.
Another thing fans want is a change to the short track product. It’s no secret, short track racing was the worst part of the 2019 season. It was boring. It was follow the leader. No one could pass.
Phelps, saw what fans saw and despite the same package coming back in 2020, he notes that NASCAR is open to changes to lower downforce on those types of tracks.
“Our promise to our fans is that we’re going to provide the best racing we can on short tracks,” said Phelps on the topic. “We’ll work with teams and OEM’s in the offseason to figure it out and are confident there are things that we can do.”
While a new car is coming out for 2021 too, rumors are swirling about a potential new engine manufacture coming into the sport. Toyota was the last to debut which happened back in 2007, but since then, Dodge has departed. They desperately want a fourth OEM. The issue with doing so, they need to make changes to the engines to make them more hybrid if they’re going to lure one over.
“We will not have a new OEM in this sport unless we change the engines,” Phelps harshly noted. While an electric engine will be controversial, Phelps notes that the new engine will sound the same but some sort of electrification is going to be required.
They had a rep in town at Phoenix for a potential new OEM last weekend.
Other than that, nothing else changes. The team are supposed to get the 2021 cars by mid July and that all signs are moving forward in the direction to remain on target.
In terms of an entitlement sponsor for 2020 and beyond, they won’t have just one anymore. From Winston, to Nextel to Sprint to Monster Energy, it will be just the NASCAR Cup Series “presented by…” next year. There will be 3-5 different business that will take that role which a further announcement is set for Champion’s week in Nashville, Tenn next mont.