NASCAR has made a significant change to the upcoming schedule midway through the 2020 season. The drivers and media members had headed to Nashville, Tennessee in December 2019 for the annual NASCAR Champion's Week and NASCAR Cup Series Awards and planned on doing so again in 2020. This plan is no longer happening due to COVID-19 concerns.
NASCAR confirmed the cancellation of the season-ending ceremony on Monday with a statement. Racing's governing body cited the coronavirus concerns and revealed that the three series champions would still enjoy the opportunity to celebrate their seasons. This event will just take place at a later date. NASCAR's 2019 celebration Nashville marked the first time that the ceremony headed to Tennessee's capital and featured Kyle Busch celebrating his second championship.
"With the uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus and the impact on the industry, this year's NASCAR Champion's Week and NASCAR Cup Series Awards originally scheduled to take place in Nashville will not occur," the statement read. "The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series champions will be celebrated at the end of the season with more details to come. We look forward to returning to Nashville in 2021."
Nashville is currently in Stage 3 of Mayor John Cooper's reopening plan after moving ahead on June 22. Under these rules, restaurants can operate at 75-percent capacity while live music events can take place once again. Residents must still adhere to social distancing guidelines while going to gyms, museums and restaurants. They are also encouraged to continue wearing masks in public.
In addition to returning to Nashville in 2021 for the Champion's Week and Cup Series Awards, NASCAR will once again hold races near Music City. Racing's governing body announced on June 3 that a Cup Series race will take place at Nashville Superspeedway, a 1.33-mile concrete track in Lebanon, Tennessee. NASCAR hasn't raced at the Tennessee track since 2011 but will add it to the schedule again in 2021.
To make room for the added event in Tennessee, the Cup Series will drop Dover International Speedway from two events to only one. Dover Motorsports Inc. originally built Nashville Superspeedway, which hosted NASCAR, ARCA and IndyCar events from 2001-2011. Now the track will once again host races and other events, starting in 2021.
"The news that NASCAR will bring a Cup race to Wilson County and the greater Nashville region in 2021 is a positive move for the sport of NASCAR and for NASCAR fans," said Speedway Motorsports President Marcus Smith. "In recent years, we've made it very clear that we think Nashville is a place where NASCAR should be for the future and not just the past. Our efforts to work with state and local government officials to revive the historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway will continue. We believe that the beloved short track in downtown Nashville provides tremendous opportunity to be a catalyst for year-round tourism and entertainment development."