NASCAR released the 2020 Gander Outdoors Truck Series schedule on Wednesday afternoon (April 3).
The series still features 23 races and will open the season at Daytona International Speedway as part of the usual tripleheader with the NASCAR Xfinity and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series. And just like the Cup Series, the season finale has been moved from Homestead-Miami Speedway to ISM Raceway, while Homestead moves to late March.
Though very few of the changes were a huge surprise given the Cup Series schedule released last week, one thing that does stand out is the addition of Richmond Raceway. It will be the first time series has raced at the 0.75-mile track since 2005.
“The NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series were both built on short track racing, and it is important that short tracks remain a prominent part of our series schedules,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR managing director of racing operations and international development. “We returned to our roots in many ways with today’s announcement. Martinsville and Richmond were part of the original Xfinity and Gander Trucks schedules, and we’re excited for their return as part of a strong overall slate.”
— Richmond Raceway (@RichmondRaceway) April 3, 2019
“Since I came to Richmond in 2011, I have been asked one question more than any other, ‘When are the trucks coming back?’” Richmond president Dennis Bickmeier said in a release. “We have actively pursued a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race for years, so we look forward to welcoming the Gander Trucks back home to Richmond next spring.”
The Truck Series first visited Richmond in its inaugural season where Terry Labonte and Geoffrey Bodine put up an incredible side-by-side finish with Labonte taking the victory by a nose.
The Truck Series continued to race at Richmond through the 2005 season until it was replaced by Talladega Superspeedway on the 2006 schedule.
The downside of the change for 2020 is that Martinsville Speedway lost one of its two dates to open up a spot for Richmond. The good news, though, is that the playoff race at The Paperclip remains.
Eldora Speedway fans, don’t worry because the series will, thankfully, continue its mid-week summer visit to the dirt track. Only instead of being a lead into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway weekend, it will run while the Cup Series takes a couple of weeks off for the Olympics.
Meanwhile, this extended off period we’re at the beginning of right now — you know, the one that extends throughout the entire month of April? It’s gone next season. The longest break in the schedule for 2020 is a three-week hiatus as the playoffs wind toward a close.
Michigan International Speedway will now be the final race of the regular season, while Gateway Motorsports Park opens up the playoffs. Hooray! Additionally, each round of the playoffs ends with short tracks in Bristol Motor Speedway and Martinsville, both of which should put on helluva races to set the next round.
There are plenty of things that you could complain about with this schedule. After all, the number of races continues to sit at 23, when not that long ago, drivers would contest 25 events. But the addition of Richmond once again is exciting, even though it comes with the loss of one of the Martinsville dates. While I’m not a fan of removing a short track for a short track race, the good news is that The Paperclip still remains on the schedule.
It remains to be seen whether ISM Raceway can put on the kind of race that the season finale is worthy of, but it’s a hopeful sign that NASCAR is making these adjustments. Perhaps, it means the sanctioning body will be open for more of a return to the series’ roots in the coming years. Only time will tell.
Full 2020 Gander Outdoors Truck Series Schedule
|Friday, Feb. 14||Daytona International Speedway|
|Friday, Feb. 21||Las Vegas Motor Speedway|
Saturday, March 14
|Atlanta Motor Speedway|
|Friday, March 20||Homestead-Miami Speedway|
|Friday, March 27||Texas Motor Speedway|
|Saturday, April 18||Richmond Raceway|
|Friday, May 1||Dover International Speedway|
|Friday, May 15||Charlotte Motor Speedway|
|Saturday, May 30||Kansas Speedway|
|Friday, June 5||Texas Motor Speedway|
|Friday, June 12||Iowa Speedway|
|Friday, June 19||Chicagoland Speedway|
|Saturday, June 27||Pocono Raceway|
|Thursday, July 9||Kentucky Speedway|
|Thursday, July 30||Eldora Speedway|
|Saturday, Aug. 8||Michigan International Speedway|
|Friday, Aug. 21||Gateway Motorsports Park|
|Sunday, Sept. 6||Canadian Tire Motorsport Park|
|Thursday, Sept. 17||Bristol Motor Speedway|
|Friday, Sept. 25||Las Vegas Motor Speedway|
|Saturday, Oct. 3||Talladega Superspeedway|
|Friday, Oct. 30||Martinsville Speedway|
|Friday, Nov. 6||ISM Raceway|
- Harrison Burton will join Joe Gibbs Racing to run eight Xfinity Series events, starting this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. The announcement, teased for more than a week, came on Monday (April 1) during a Facebook Live on the team’s Facebook page.
“Harrison continues to impress at each level of his racing career,” Steve DeSouza, executive vice president of Xfinity Series and development for Joe Gibbs Racing, said. “Ben [Beshore, crew chief] has the No. 18 team off to a strong start this season, and we believe Harrison will continue that momentum for us starting at Bristol.”
- Austin Wayne Self has been suspended indefinitely for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy. The results of random testing done at Daytona International Speedway were revealed on Tuesday (April 2). Bubba Wallace had piloted the No. 22 Chevrolet in the last two races at Texas Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway. Details about a driver for upcoming races will be revealed in the coming weeks.
“AM Racing respects NASCAR’s decision and will follow their direction,” the team said in a statement. “We expect Austin Wayne Self to return to the seat as quickly as possible. AM Racing will continue to operate as normal with a determination of a driver lineup set in the coming weeks.”
— Austin Wayne Self (@AustinWSelf) April 2, 2019