In early October, NASCAR and ARCA released early details on what the merger of the two organizations will include for the 2020 season. The ARCA Racing Elite Series will be the main series, with 20 races, 10 on speedways longer than 1 mile. The next 10 are the Stock Car Invitational with all 10 on short tracks. The latter 10 will involve K&N East and West Pro Series drivers, who were competing 6-8 races on short tracks in their regions. As Matt Weaver from Autoweek noted, it will be a championship within a championship. However, the one race that should be guaranteed is the season-opening ARCA race in Daytona.
There is something special about Daytona. If a stock racing series wanted to be legitimate, they race at Daytona. Daytona Superspeedway in February seems to make the best gateway race for the new season. The long winter is over in most months, snow is starting to melt and people are ready to hear 750 horses going in circles. The first race of the entire show is the ARCA race at Daytona, which is 80 laps. This race rarely goes just 80 laps as crashing in the later laps is normal. This, tied with ARCA’s green-white-checkered rules, has given ARCA racing a really bad name the last few seasons.
Since the ending of the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway, the ARCA race is the first televised race of the 2018 season for all stock car series. As a result, all the eyes of stock car racing are on the ARCA cars for 80 laps. It is the most exposure the series gets all year. Some races are on FS1 and MAVTV, but none are probably eyecatching than the race at Daytona. Lots are shoved on FS2 and MAVTV, resulting in lower ratings for the non-dedicated. However, almost all are aired live, which gets the most credit.
NASCAR drivers commonly come up through the K&N East, West and ARCA Series to get to the Truck Series. So, the early exposure at Daytona is not only good exposure for young drivers to the public, but for the drivers learning how to handle one of the biggest tracks in America. They will see Daytona in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, Xfinity Series and the Cup Series. It is the opening race of every season (or in the Cup Series, opening 4 races).
That said, the 2020 season should start in Daytona, like the previous ARCA seasons. Now under the NASCAR banner, it will be a good place to start the entire season. Yes, the majority of the series will be on short tracks, but for the sake of good racing, Daytona should be on the schedule in February.
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