In July, NASCAR announced that the planned trip to Nashville, Tennessee, for an awards ceremony would not happen due to COVID-19. Questions remained about how racing's sanctioning body would honor the three winners of the top series, and now there is an answer. NASCAR has unveiled a broadcast schedule for the 2020 NASCAR Awards Show.
According to a press release, the awards will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 18. NBC Sports Network will broadcast the ceremony, which will begin at 8 p.m. ET. NBC Sports' Kelli Stavast and ESPN's Marty Snider will co-host the 90-minute broadcast special, recognizing the three champions — Cup Series winner Chase Elliott, NASCAR Xfinity Series winner Austin Cindric and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series winner Sheldon Creed. Country star Chris Stapleton will open the show with the television debut of his song, "Arkansas," from his upcoming album "Starting Over."
In addition to honoring the three series' champions, the 2020 NASCAR Awards Show will include a tribute to seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. The veteran driver officially retired after Sunday's Season Finale 500 to spend time with his family and take part in IndyCar.
NASCAR will recognize several other drivers throughout the evening. The broadcast will highlight the Bill France Award of Excellence winner, the 2020 Most Popular Driver in each series, and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year in each series. Additionally, NASCAR will highlight 2020's Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award finalists.
The 2019 NASCAR Awards Show marked the first time that the gala headed to Music City. Drivers rolled down Broadway with stock cars featuring undercarriage lights while big names took the stage to present awards. Eddie George, Jay Cutler, Kristin Cavallari and many others took part in the awards show and capped off a memorable season in which Kyle Busch won his second Cup Series championship. NASCAR had planned on returning to Nashville in 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the schedule.
"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 organization said in a statement. "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."