Craig Murto

Craig Murto

IndyCar revealed its 2020 schedule, and Richmond Raceway returns after 11 years.

The quick three-quarter-mile oval once again will host the ultra-fast IndyCar series. Mark June 27 on your calendar, and be prepared to be thrilled by the fastest cars you’ll see on that oval.

Hopefully, the fans make an effort to support IndyCar’s return after more than a decade. Whereas the 2020 schedule benefits Richmond, Pocono has been dropped from the calendar. That’s unfortunate, especially considering that the track was originally built to host IndyCar racing.

The 2020 IndyCar schedule begins March 15 on the temporary downtown street circuit in St. Petersburg, Florida, before moving on to the Barber Motorsports Park road course in Alabama on April 5. The traditional race on the streets of Long Beach, California, is scheduled for April 19 before the series competes in Austin, Texas, on April 26.

The month of May is always busy in IndyCar racing, but especially so in 2020. May 9 is the IndyCar Grand Prix on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the cars will compete on the high-speed oval May 24 in the Indianapolis 500. But May isn’t finished for the Indy crowd, as May 30 and 31 the series compete in twin races on the temporary Belle Isle circuit in Detroit.

On June 6, IndyCar competes at Texas Motor Speedway in what is always a thriller in Fort Worth. Then, a week before the Richmond visit, they race on the road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

July 12 marks the series’ only visit outside the country in 2020 as it competes in Toronto, six days before the scheduled race on the Iowa Speedway short track.

On Aug. 16, IndyCar will be at the beautiful Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, prior to the Aug. 22 running on the Gateway oval in Madison, Illinois.

Proper road racing circuits wrap up the schedule in 2020, just as they do this season. Sept. 6 the series will race at Portland, Oregon, before crowning a champion at the Laguna Seca circuit in Monterey, California, on Sept. 20.

You really don’t want to miss IndyCar’s return to Richmond in 2020; let’s ensure it’s a rousing success.

The biggest success of the past racing weekend was the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Southern 500 at Darlington, South Carolina. Despite a rain delay of a few hours, the sold-out crowd enjoyed a thrilling race complete with throwback paint schemes and a finish that wasn’t determined until only a few laps to go. The race had thrills and spills and a lot of passing throughout the field.

The race began with a little bit of history, as pole-sitter William Byron joined Fireball Roberts (1962) and Bill Elliott (1985) as the only drivers to qualify on pole for the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600, and the Southern 500 in the same year.

Erik Jones, in his 100th start, grabbed his second Cup win in the marquee event. The 23-year-old racer’s win is Joe Gibbs Racing’s 13th Cup win of the year. Each Gibbs team has been in Victory Lane.

Kyle Larson and Jones swapped the lead a number of times at the beginning of the final stage before Jones secured the top spot as the dominant car.

Jones was beginning to be a topic of conversation as if he would be moved to a satellite team in order to make room for Christopher Bell. Now that he’s won a race and ensured his spot in the playoffs, some of the pressure should be off.

In the final five laps of the race, Jones teammate Kyle Busch did all he could to get to his bumper, but overdrove the car and slammed the wall a couple of times, handing the second spot over to Ganassi Racing’s Larson.

The top-three NASCAR Whelen All-American Weekly Series point competitors in the nation will race NASCAR Late Model Stock Cars and compete in Virginia. On Oct. 5, the Late Models compete at Martinsville, and it’s a great opportunity to enjoy that facility while avoiding the huge Cup crowd. But also mark Oct. 19 on your calendar, as that is the date of “The Big One” at Dominion Raceway in Thornburg. The pavement Late Model specials wrap up on Nov. 2 when the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Tour compete at South Boston.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.