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NASCAR announcements on qualifying, 2020 schedule coming this week

Screenshot 2019-03-25 15.48.43

Cars park on the end of pit road during qualifying at Auto Club Speedway. Photo: Fox Sports

This could be a week of changes in NASCAR, beginning later today.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, said Monday on “The Morning Drive” that tweaks to group qualifying could come as early as today. Also, NASCAR is expected to announce the 2020 schedule this week.

After all 12 Cup teams failed to make it to the start/finish line before time expired to run a lap at Auto Club Speedway, NASCAR vowed to make changes. But O’Donnell said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that officials still like the group qualifying format.

“I think you’ll probably hear from us tonight,” O’Donnell said Monday about changes to qualifying. “I think the fans will appreciate where we’re going. We do not want to go to single-car qualifying. We like the group qualifying.

“We will make some tweaks that were really already in the rulebook. Scott Miller (NASCAR senior vice president of competition) and his team have put a lot of thought into that and talked to a lot of the drivers and race teams. I think we’ll be in a good spot as we head out to Texas (this weekend).”

As for the schedule, O’Donnell said NASCAR is “looking at this week to announce some cool things. (NASCAR President) Steve Phelps has been really honest with everyone in terms of our ability to move races in 2020 with the agreements that we have. I think you’ll see some great cooperation that has happened with the tracks and our TV partners as we look at it for 2020.”

O’Donnell also shed some light on how NASCAR looks at creating its race schedule.

“It’s one of those things that it’s never done,” he told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “When we announce on 2020, we’re already working on 2021 and beyond. Even when you think you’re done, some curveball gets thrown your way. But it’s also fun. It’s fun to see what we’re able to potentially do.

“The challenge for us that often occurs is matching up your three national series, making sure you’re able to showcase them on a weekend … and do it at the right time. The biggest thing is as you look at the calendar, managing those dates that have historically been an anchor to your schedule. Once you plug those in, there’s only so many movements you can make, but I think 2020 will be exciting for the fans.”