The end of the 2019 racing season marks an anniversary of sorts in NASCAR’s competition department. Jay Fabian will hit a work milestone next month, completing one year as the director of stock-car racing’s premier series.
For Fabian and the rest of the department at the R&D Center, the holiday break offers a welcome chance to rest and re-energize for the season ahead. There’s plenty to recharge for – ongoing tests and development to the Next Gen car that’s on target for 2021, potential tweaks for next season’s rules and procedures, a newly merged NASCAR that has absorbed International Speedway Corp. and a shaken-up schedule that’s likely to continue evolving.
Fabian’s prime challenge upon taking the job came with an accelerated post-race inspection model that carried tougher penalties, including the potential disqualification of race winners caught with significant rules violations.
That model is expected to return largely intact for 2020, but with the potential for more cars returning to the R&D Center so that competition officials can monitor them for trends – and also to enforce compliance with the expanded parts freeze for next year, instituted ahead of the 2021 arrival of the Next Gen model.
Any other potential rules and procedural alterations would be announced closer to the season-opening Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway in February, but Fabian hinted that the structure of each race weekend is currently under review.
"We’ll see quite a bit of impound weekends," Fabian says, referencing schedules where cars are garaged and not eligible for major changes between qualifying and the race start. "Historically, the enhanced schedule is when we would qualify and then inspect the next morning and then you’d (have offenders) start at the back – there shouldn’t be any of those, but we’ll still have plenty of two-day schedules. There will be some three-day schedules. I think there were actually some races toward the end of the year that those weekend schedules will be very similar to what you’ll see in 2020."
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Tentative weekend at-track schedules have already been released for much of the season. Detailed schedules can be found on the individual Cup race pages, which are linked to on the 2020 Cup schedule page.