NASCAR made schedule changes to all three of its major series to appeal to fans for 2020, yet the ARCA Menards Series already has the variety in its schedule which fans clamor for. Just ask Bret Holmes.
With NASCAR’s purchase of the ARCA Menards Series last year, NASCAR can change the ARCA Menards Series schedule, however. One way to possibly improve the schedule is for the ARCA Menards Series to race at Martinsville Speedway in 2020.
There is room on the Martinsville Speedway 2020 schedule for the ARCA to race there. The NASCAR Cup Series will race at Martinsville on Saturday night, May 9, 2020. This will mark the first time a NASCAR series will race under the lights at The Paperclip.
NASCAR races at Martinsville twice a year. Typically, the track would host the first race weekend after the West Coast Swing in March. That race weekend, the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series raced on Saturday during the daytime and the Cup Series raced the following day, during the day.
Next year will be different. Martinsville will retain its two NASCAR race weekends, but at the moment, only the Cup Series will race there on the first race weekend. The second race weekend will be the penultimate race for all three series. With no series currently joining the Cup Series at Martinsville for the first race weekend, there is the perfect opportunity for the ARCA Menards Series to race there.
We know for certain that there will be another race at Martinsville during that first race weekend. Following the 2020 Cup Series schedule announcement, Martinsville Speedway tweeted this.
We will have an announcement on the support race for that weekend in the coming weeks.
— Martinsville Speedway (@MartinsvilleSwy) April 3, 2019
After its purchase of the ARCA Menards Series, NASCAR announced that 10 ARCA races would be held on short tracks. Those ten races will make up the Stock Car Invitational, and ARCA and K&N Pro Series drivers can compete in those races. What better way to begin the inaugural Stock Car Invitational than at the historic Martinsville Speedway?
ARCA has never competed at Martinsville before. While the series schedule already features a variety of tracks, NASCAR will want to make the series even more profitable. As a result, NASCAR may pair some more races with its three major series. Martinsville would be a good location for a companion race. It is a 0.526-mile short track that boasts 60,000 seats, so seating for the fans isn’t a problem.
Just recently, NASCAR held a test for ARCA drivers at Martinsville for this reason.
The ARCA-K&N rulebook merger test is taking place at Martinsville. The location was selected because it's a track neither division races at and no one has a baseline notebook. https://t.co/4ggco19K2D
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverAW) April 9, 2019
Yes, neither the ARCA Menards Series nor the K&N Pro Series currently race at Martinsville. If NASCAR is pleased with the test results, it may debut the Stock Car Invitational at the test site.
In its two races at Martinsville Speedway, the Truck Series competed for 250 and 200 laps, respectively. A 200-lap race for ARCA on Friday night, May 8, 2020, would be a nice length at the track. If NASCAR can work with its TV broadcast partners to both promote and broadcast the race, it could be a big boost for ARCA. A race under the lights would also be well-received by fans and media alike.
Hello….. ARCA…. https://t.co/rLy4WdkF4T
— Chris Knight ツ (@Knighter01) April 3, 2019
Of course, an ARCA Menards Series race at Martinsville would need a title sponsor. It is in NASCAR’s best interest to ensure the Stock Car Invitational races pay well so plenty of teams and drivers show up.
Entry lists for the ARCA Menards Series and both K&N Pro Series divisions have not been overly high. In ARCA’s latest race at Five Flags Speedway, 20 drivers were entered. At the upcoming race at Salem Speedway (April 14), only 18 drivers are entered.
The K&N Pro Series East most recent race occurred at Bristol Motor Speedway where 19 drivers competed in the Zombie Auto 150. On the west coast, 21 drivers competed in the series’ most recent race at Irwindale Speedway.
If half of the combined K&N Pro Series drivers compete in an ARCA race at Martinsville, there could be nearly 40 drivers attempting to make the race. No field size for the Stock Car Invitational has been set yet, but the level of competition would definitely increase.
According to Charles Krall, ARCA Menards Series communications manager, the 2020 ARCA Menards Series schedule has not even been discussed yet. Once those discussions start, NASCAR should put Martinsville on the schedule.