Of the many strange weekends of the COVID-19 pandemic-era racing season, this may be the strangest of all. Whether running a doubleheader, a second consecutive race at the same track, or a six-leg event, every major series scheduled to race this weekend is either running or not running an event that looks completely different than it would have looked in a pre-pandemic world.
IndyCar, who postponed this weekend's doubleheader at Mid-Ohio just a week in advance, headlines those not racing. Here are the races that remain:
Formula 1 - 70th Anniversary Grand Prix
Sunday, August 9 - 9 a.m. ET - ESPN
With record books noting last weekend's race as the 2020 British Grand Prix, Sunday's race at Silverstone is instead the inaugural 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. This means that, technically, Lewis Hamilton is not gunning for another win in his home race, just looking for a strong finish in a race that happens to be in England. This may explain how Valtteri Bottas got the best of him in qualifying today, inverting the order of the Mercedes 1-2 start that has become so familiar over the past half-decade.
Nico Hulkenberg will start third in another one-off start for Racing Point, his best chance at the podium that has eluded him for so long. Max Verstappen leads Red Bull Racing off the grid from fourth, while another disappointing qualifying session for Ferrari will have their Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel starting eighth and twelfth, respectively.
NASCAR Xfinity Series - Road America
Saturday, August 8 - 12 p.m. EST - NBC Sports Network
The now-traditional standalone event at Road America, perhaps the best race on the Xfintiy Series schedule, will be the division's first one-off race since the series returned to racing in May. This is one of two consecutive Xfinity races at a road course, and the only one to be held at a road course that is not set on the infield of an oval.
The unique nature of the event make it crucial for one-off and full-time Xfinity Series drivers alike, all of whom see any win in the series as crucial to being seen as a real Cup Series prospect in a world that hasn't had all that many real prospects in the last decade.
NASCAR Cup Series - Michigan International Speedway
Saturday, August 8 - 4 p.m. EST - NBC Sports Network
Sunday, August 9 - 4:30 p.m. EST - NBC Sports Network
This weekend at Michigan is the second of three true doubleheader weekends for NASCAR's Cup Series, a concept introduced just at Pocono this season before being adopted at other tracks after the pandemic delay in order to catch up to the total number of scheduled races the series is contractually obligated to host. Both races are at the large, flat Michigan International Speedway, a track that shares very few traits with the tracks that make up the Playoff schedule from next month on, making them relatively unimportant events for teams already locked into the postseason field and comfortable with their total number of the Playoff Points that carry over into each of the first three rounds of the elimination format.
Instead, these are crucial races for the drivers still looking to either make their way into that postseason field or build up the sort of 30 Playoff Point cushion that makes drivers like Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick penciled-in championship contenders months before any championship field is actually set. Two to watch are Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch, who likely see themselves as the championship contenders they have been for most of the last half-decade, but combine for just 13 of these carryover points. Given the massive gap that all three of Hamlin, Keselowski, and Harvick already have on the rest of the field, NASCAR's complicated format means that both drivers will likely either need to make up a lot of Playoff Points or make their way into the Round of 8 on merit and win one of the three races in that round in order to qualify their way into the Championship Four at Phoenix.
FIA Formula E - Berlin ePrix
Saturday, August 8 - 12:30 p.m. EST - Fox
Sunday, August 9 -
1 p.m. EST - Fox Sports 1
These two races, each a Berlin ePrix, are the middle legs of a six-parter. These six races are Formula E's solution to completing its pandemic-delayed season, packing over half the schedule into a nine day stretch at an airport in Berlin. The series is running on three different layouts, but this weekend's races are the most traditional.
Antonio Felix da Costa has won the last three events, building a massive championship lead that should allow him to win the title on Sunday's fourth of six races so long as he finishes well in both of this weekend's events. Whether or not he clinches the title, two more races are scheduled to be held on Wednesday and Thursday.
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