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Opinion: ‘Let’s Race Two’

Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks had a famous saying that may soon find its way to the racing world. "Mr. Cub" was such a fan of playing baseball, one game just wasn’t enough. "Let’s play two today," the eternal optimist was fond of saying.

The NASCAR world was already set to take a page out of the twin bill playbook with the first-ever Cup Series doubleheader weekend at Pocono Raceway. The "Tricky Triangle" is set to host a pair of Cup races on June 27 and 28 as a centerpiece to a jammed weekend that will also see ARCA, Gander RV Outdoor Truck Series and Xfinity Series racing at the 2.5-mile track as well.

Early returns seem to indicate the idea has struck a chord with race fans.

"Everyone seems to be embracing the doubleheader concept and fans are sharing their excitement about our event this June," said Pocono President, Ben May. "We made a conscious effort to not increase ticket prices this year, to still allow for kids to attend all events free of charge and to continue initiatives Raceway guests have enjoyed over the last few summers.

"Our staff remains committed to offering fans the best possible experience and they get double the value for their dollar with more on-track action than ever before at Pocono. These factors have resulted in an increase of year-to-year ticket sales, which are not commonly seen this early in the season."

But now with the sport on hold until at least mid-May as the world deals with the Coronavirus crisis, other tracks may wind up following Pocono’s lead if not by design but by necessity.

NASCAR president Steve Phelps has stated the sport’s desire to not cancel any races but rather reschedule any postponed events once racing resumes. Additional sanctioning bodies have already done so with IndyCar creating another doubleheader cars with the Xfinity Series on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course July 4th.

The situation could conceivably create a number of similar scenarios including more Cup Series back-to-back weekends at various tracks or NASCAR sharing the stage with other series like IndyCar or even IMSA.

Dover International Speedway, which was to host the first of its two Cup Series races on May 3rd, might take on the doubleheader scenario. The track’s second date in August 23rd, which now happens to be the day of the postponed 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. However, the track is looking at the conflict in the best possible light given the situation and ready to embrace the new schedule.

"The good news is they can sit in the grandstand and watch the Indy 500 and stay and watch our race live," Dover President Mike Tatoian said. "What a perfect day that would be for a motorsports fan. Watch it live on your phone, sit in the grandstand and enjoy a hot dog."

If the postponed May Cup race creates a busier Dover weekend, the track is ready.

"The perfect scenario would be to have enough time to prepare properly for two separate race weekends," Tatoian said. "If that’s not possible, it would have to be in the form of a doubleheader."

Giving fans more racing for the time, dollars and energy spent going to a racetrack would add some positive value to the need for rescheduling races. If the idea is a success, perhaps future schedules could incorporate more doubleheaders as a means of both freshening and tightening up the long NASCAR campaign.

So why not race two more often? Mr. Cub would be proud.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.