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Rumor Mill: Richmond to LOSE Second Date on NASCAR Schedule

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

In an unsurprising report, Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic discussed the future of NASCAR at Richmond Raceway in a recent episode of “The Teardown”. He claims that Richmond Raceway is “On the chopping block” to lose its second date as soon as next season.

They’re [NASCAR] running out of tracks to take dates from. That is a fact, and from the conversations I’ve had with people, Richmond is considered likely to lose a second date at some point, and from the conversation’s I’ve had with people, that very well could happen next year .

Jordan Bianchi
  • To those who have followed this story closely, this is not a surprise. NASCAR President Steve Phelps’ comments in the offseason have called the future of two dates at Richmond into question, and this is not the first report from Bianchi to suggest Richmond losing a date.
  • There are many practical reasons for NASCAR to move Richmond’s second date to other race tracks. As NASCAR looks to expand, those dates have to come from somewhere.
  • Fans are generally in favor of a second race date being taken away from Richmond. Richmond is not an exceptionally popular track, and the recent attendance trends show that fans are now showing up to this track either.

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Why Richmond Could Lose Its Second Date

This off-season, Steve Phelps held a webinar where he explained some of NASCAR’s scheduling philosophy. He stated that tracks that host two dates keep those dates primarily on one of two conditions. Tracks must sell out, and/or have “Extraordinary” racing. We’ve seen NASCAR take return visits away from tracks like New Hampshire, Texas, Dover, Pocono, and Michigan in recent years.

Richmond hasn’t sold out a Cup Series race since 2008. The racing product at Richmond has also been hit-or-miss at best throughout the last decade or so. When you combine lackluster racing with poor at-track attendance, that’s not sustainable for NASCAR.

The idea of Richmond losing its second date is not a new idea either. Bianchi suggested later in the Richmond episode of “The Teardown” that NASCAR was considering taking Richmond’s race away this year, but, ultimately decided against it because Richmond is a traditional staple of the calendar. He also reported following the Bristol race this season that Richmond could lose its second date.

The Benefits of Losing a Richmond Race

There are plenty of practical reasons for why NASCAR would take a race date away from Richmond. As Bianch alluded to, NASCAR is looking to expand the schedule, and those dates have to come from somewhere.

NASCAR has publicly stated that they want to race internationally, and Steve Phelps hinted to Fox Sports‘ Chris Myers before the Daytona 500 that NASCAR expects to race in Mexico and/or Canada in 2025. Phelps said that NASCAR is committed to holding a race in Southern California in 2025.

Getting rid of a Richmond race frees up real estate on the schedule for an international race. Again, that race has to come at the expense of another race track.

The other benefit of losing a Richmond race is that it could open up a spot for another track in that area. With one Richmond date off the schedule, NASCAR can keep that race within one of their core audience areas (Virginia/North Carolina) by moving it to a place like North Wilkesboro or even Rockingham. We discussed the geographical issues of adding another race to that area of the country in the article below.

If a Richmond race is gone, NASCAR could make good on that loss by adding a points race at North Wilkesboro, which frees up the All-Star Race for something brand new. Maybe Rockingham hosts the race, or, maybe NASCAR takes it international?

Richmond Raceway seems like a track on the clock to prove its worthiness of two race dates. For now, it seems Richmond might be the next race to lose one of its two dates.

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Joshua Lipowski

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