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NASCAR Preview: What to Watch for in 2020

NASCAR PREVIEW: What to Watch For in 2020

NASCAR is roaring into its 72nd season with plenty of driver, car and schedule changes. It’s Jimmie Johnson’s last season as a full-time driver, the Championship races are moving to the Phoenix Raceway, and all eyes are fixed on defending Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, giving fans all the more reason to get excited about the upcoming season. Discover what 2020 has in store for race fans across the country.

DRIVERS TO WATCH: You may have your favorite, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the competition. Check out three of the biggest names in NASCAR and what they have on tap.

KYLE BUSCH: Everyone loves a winner, right? Whether or not you agree, the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion is definitely one to look out for in 2020 as he pursues his third career championship. After last year’s epic performance, with both regular season and playoff titles, five Cup Series wins and 17 Top 5 finishes, Busch has his sights set on topping his 2019 season. For his career he has 56 Cup victories and counting.

DENNY HAMLIN: Coming off one of the best seasons in his NASCAR Cup career, Hamlin opened 2020 with a second straight victory at the Daytona 500 and is poised to make a run at the 2020 championship title. Having undergone shoulder surgery towards the end of 2019, Hamlin spent the majority of his off-season recuperating but showed no ill-effects in Daytona.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Saying farewell as a full-time driver after 19 seasons, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champ Jimmie Johnson is looking to end his career on a powerful note. It’s been 20 years since a 30-minute conversation with Jeff Gordon helped land him a job with Hendrick Motorsports and set him on course for a standout career. An eighth championship title would be a heck of a way to go out.

Where/How to Watch NASCAR

FOX and NBC are splitting the broadcast rights to NASCAR this season. The first half of the season will air on FOX and FOX Sports 1 (FS1), starting with Daytona on February 9th and extending through the Toyota / Save Mart 350 on June 14th. The second half of the season will air on NBC and NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) beginning on June 21st with the Chicagoland 400 and extend through the NASCAR Cup Series Championship November 8th . Live stream races are available from the downloadable apps provided by most cable or satellite TV services. If you don’t have a traditional TV service, you can also stream the races with a subscription to an over-the-top (OTT) streaming service. Our top picks are: AT&T TV Now, Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV.

Top NASCAR Races to Watch

If you can’t make it to every speedway or watch every race as it streams, you’re going to want to at least make sure you catch the big four in 2020.

DAYTONA 500: The Great American Race lived up to its billing with a photo finish and a second straight victory at Daytona by Hamlin, but it was overshadowed by a fiery crash on the final stretch that put Ryan Newman in the hospital. Amazingly, Newman was able to walk out of the hospital on his own power three days later

TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY: You’ve got two chances to watch with the Geico 500 on April 26 and the Alabama 500 on October 4. Check out the $50 million renovation to Talladega’s infield in person or watch on TV as drivers take on NASCAR’s biggest track (tri-oval 2.66 miles). Drama is the norm at Talladega with a wide track that allows three-and four-wide racing.

NASCAR CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP: Championship weekend—scheduled for Nov. 6-8—is being moved from the Homestead-Miami Speedway where it’s been held for 18 years to the Phoenix Raceway. The move was made to generate fan excitement and boost TV viewership, though it has been met with mixed reactions among the racing community. Coupled with NASCAR’s changes to a lower downforce package this season, shorter tracks like Phoenix are expected to have more passing and lead changes during races, making for more exciting action.

Off to the Races With Fantasy NASCAR

Move over football fans, it’s time to explore fantasy sports where the rubber meets the road. Take your fandom to the next level and hop in your own driver’s seat as you create your own racing teams in Fantasy NASCAR. Whether you’re new to fantasy sports or a seasoned fantasy racing expert, each year delivers a new opportunity to outperform your peers. Become the master of your own motorsports team when you hand-select drivers, learn about track rankings and follow along with real-life NASCAR drivers. There are three ways to play: draft-based fantasy NASCAR where you select a team and keep it all season (barring trades), class-based fantasy where the previous season’s performance impacts your drivers’ ranking this season, or the salary cap model that allows you to change drivers each week. To get in on the Fantasy NASCAR action, check out NASCAR’s official fantasy page or unaffiliated sites like FanDuel, DraftKings and Fantasy Racing Online, where choosing the best driver may earn you real cash and prizes. For analysis and insight, check out Garage Guys Fantasy Sports podcast.

2020 FANTASY NASCAR PRIMER

Chase Holden, otherwise known as “Garage Guy Chase” on Twitter, RotoBaller.com, and Garage Guys Fantasy Sports podcast, is an expert on Fantasy NASCAR. Here, exclusively for Inside Tailgating, he shares his thoughts on what makes Fantasy NASCAR different from fantasy football, while providing some tips on how to prepare for and play the upcoming Fantasy NASCAR season.

Fantasy NASCAR is the biggest sweat in the fantasy sports world, which makes it the most intense fantasy game out there—even over fantasy football. Unlike football players who tend to hold on to their points production, driver points can come and go fast. You can have a good read on who will win or lose in fantasy football before the last game of the week. In NASCAR, there’s only one day of competition and no matter how good the driver, one small mistake can change everything. Here are some tips on the best way to prep, participate and enjoy the 2020 Fantasy NASCAR season.

PREP FOR FANTASY NASCAR SEASON: Playing Fantasy NASCAR requires some prep time before setting your lineups each week. Who to start and who to park depends on a lot of factors. It’s important to gather practice speeds, qualifying order, and driver history at a given racetrack.  If you’re new to Fantasy NASCAR, an easy way to expand your knowledge is by reading articles and listening to podcasts. “Garage Guys Fantasy Sports Podcast” offers Fantasy NASCAR insight twice per week on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. For some of the best strategies on scoring the most points possible on a weekly basis, check out DFS Rankings by Drew Deen on Patreon.com. And to see my weekly breakdown of four drivers with big upside, check out RotoBaller.com.

CREATE YOUR OWN FANTASY NASCAR LEAGUE WITH FRIENDS: The most popular way to play Fantasy NASCAR in 2020 is on daily fantasy sports websites such as DraftKings and FanDuel. Use your computer or smartphone to set your lineups each week and compete in tournaments or head-to-head battles with friends for cash. If you prefer to play in a season-long league for bragging rights,  NASCAR.com offers NASCAR Fantasy Live, which can also be accessed through the mobile NASCAR app.

WAYS TO TRACK YOUR FANTASY NASCAR LINEUP: Essentially every website and app that you can set a lineup on will reflect the driver’s stats in points just like in Fantasy Football. You can also keep up with the race results on  NASCAR.com.

PREP FOR RACE DAY TAILGATE OR VIEWING PARTY: Nothing amps up a NASCAR tailgate like inviting friends you’re competing against in fantasy to talk smack with while enjoying the pre-race spread. You’ll definitely want to have your smartphone, tablet or computer nearby to keep tabs on your score and a television to watch the race on (the bigger the better.) Be sure not to forget the race day snacks and brews. 

TAILGATES UP, RACE FANS!

A new NASCAR season means you’ve got new reasons to tailgate. This year, make sure to show love for your favorite driver by gearing up with chairs, tables, and canopies to display your NASCAR pride. While you’re at it, keep drinks cool with a NASCAR-approved cooler tote bag and koozies. And don’t forget your sun protection. Tracks like Talladega, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Daytona are known for their unrelenting heat once spring arrives.

Also be sure to try out the recipes provided by “Grillseeker” Matthew Eads, whether tailgating at the track or homegating from the comfort of your couch or backyard. We’ve got you covered on InsideTailgating.com whether it’s with our “Grills & Gear” section for all your setup needs or “Food & Drink” for all the latest recipes to Tailgate Better, Tailgate Forever!