Race Weekend Central

ARCA 101, Part I: Changes for 2020

Change is abundant in all divisions of the ARCA Menards Series as the new decade begins. For the next three days, Frontstretch will delve into those changes and their impact on the competitors and fans, as well as the driver changes for 2020.

Gone are the titles NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West. Gone is the complicated old points system. Gone are two races at one track. And gone is ARCA’s invisibility on social media. So what’s in?

The K&N Pro Series East and West have been rebranded the ARCA Menards Series East and West, respectively. Information about both series schedules, respective point standings, etc., will be available on the ARCA website.

The Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge has been slightly altered to the Sioux Chief Showdown. It remains 10 races within the main ARCA series schedule, but its points system has been changed.

For tracks 1.25 miles and under, drivers ages 15-17 years old are eligible to compete. At Pocono Raceway, a 17-year-old driver can compete if the driver participates in the open test and is approved. At oval tracks 1.5 miles and larger, a driver must be 18 years of age.

A driver can now technically compete for four championships in one year, all under the ARCA banner: the ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East, ARCA Menards Series West and the Sioux Chief Showdown.

Because a driver can compete for four championships within three different divisions of ARCA, a team can use the same car and engine in all of those races. The rule books have been blended with only minor changes and can be found on the ARCA website.

To maintain consistency through the four championship battles, the main ARCA series, the East and West series and the Showdown will all have the same points format. With this change to the points system, the ARCA penalty structure has been adjusted to reflect the new points system, which is roughly 20% of what it used to award. So what used to be a 50-point penalty will now most likely be a 10-point penalty and so forth.

The main ARCA series’ season begins at Daytona International Speedway and ends at Kansas Speedway. Phoenix Raceway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Memphis International Speedway were added to the series schedule, while Salem Speedway and Pocono Raceway will only host one race after hosting two last season.

The main series will continue to race at both dirt tracks (Illinois State Fairgrounds Racetrack and DuQuoin State Fairgrounds Racetrack) and picked up two road course races — drivers will turn left and right at Watkins Glen International and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The races at Memphis, Iowa Speedway, Watkins Glen and Bristol moved from the East schedule to the main ARCA schedule. In contrast, Five Flags Speedway, Fairgrounds Speedway and Toledo Speedway moved from the main series schedule to the East schedule.

The East series will race eight times, beginning at New Smyrna Speedway and concluding at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which will only host one race after hosting two last season. The East races at South Boston Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway were discontinued. Gateway will continue to host a race in the main series, which will be a part of the Showdown. Additionally, Berlin Raceway rejoined the East Series schedule.

The West series schedule consists of 10 races, beginning at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring and ending at Phoenix with the NASCAR championship race weekend. In addition to the companion weekend at Phoenix, the West series will continue to race at Sonoma Raceway the same weekend as the NASCAR Cup Series. The season will take off the months of April, July and September. ARCA officials hope some of the West series teams compete in the national ARCA level races during that time.

The Sioux Chief Showdown schedule features 10 races within the main series schedule. Those 10 races stretch from as far west as Phoenix to the land of thousand lakes at Elko Speedway in Minnesota. The two road course races are included, and the Showdown champion will be crowned at Memphis.

Modified live pit stops will be used during caution periods at all tracks 1.25 miles and under as well as the two road course races. In those races, drivers will restart in the order in which they enter pit road. During a pit stop, teams can change two tires and add fuel, but not at the same time. If a team changes four tires under any caution, it will have to be done on two separate pit stops or its driver will receive a penalty. If a driver pits more than once during a caution flag period, the driver will lose their original restart position. If a driver elects not to pit, that driver will move ahead of those that pitted.

The restart lineup will therefore be lead lap cars that did not pit, followed by lead lap cars that pitted once. Then, it will be lapped cars that pitted once, anyone else who pitted more than once in order they pitted and finally, cars serving a penalty.

On road courses, teams can change four tires on a single stop. For all tracks 1.5 miles and larger, live pit stops will be used.

ARCA will keep its overtime procedures from last year. At all races except Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway, if a race heads to overtime, the ARCA flagman will display the green and white flags simultaneously for a one-lap shootout. If there is a caution before the leader receives the checkered flag, then there will be unlimited attempts to achieve a green flag end.

At Daytona and Talladega, there will only be one attempt to limit damage to vehicles and so that ARCA TV partners do not go excessively beyond the race’s allotted timeslot.

After noticeable inactivity, ARCA has ventured into the social media realm. The ARCA Twitter and Facebook accounts are now posting regularly. More importantly, the ARCA social media accounts are promoting content from the website, generating notoriety for the whole ARCA series.

Also, the NASCAR Digital Media team recently upgraded the ARCA website. There will now be more content on the website and a different look for the scoring/results feature, and the dates for releasing entry lists have been changed. The entry lists will now be released the Monday before a race instead of what happened in the past, when there was a gradual release as entries for races trickled in. Whether or not fans like this change, at minimum, NASCAR is making ARCA consistent with the three NASCAR national series.

About the author

Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.

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