A couple of weeks ago the highly anticipated schedule for next years NASCAR Cup Series was released, and the first thing I am going to say about it is just good job NASCAR! I am not completely on board with everything, but then again, there is never going to be a schedule that will keep everyone happy. But with the amount of changes they made, next season looks like it is going to be incredible. The first thing I look for though when a new schedule is released, is how many races on back-to-back weekends are located geographically close enough to each other that you can go to both and make a two week trip out of it. On this schedule there are a few, so that is absolutely a big plus, but more on that at a later stage. If you haven’t yet seen the schedule, you can easily find it on nascar.com.
They are starting off as usual with what is now the Daytona Speedweek, which was announced ages ago. However, with the Gen 7 car being pushed back to 2022, I was somewhat hoping that the Clash would be moved back to the oval. That obviously did not happen, so I’m not going to get my expectations up for that particular event. If it is anything like the race we saw on the road course earlier this year, it’s a one and done, then for the following season they are back on the oval.
Following Daytona, they are heading straight for Homestead-Miami, mainly to allow fans from afar to attend both weekends in one trip, thus help attendance. An interesting change to the schedule as we are used to seeing Homestead be the final race of the season, and now it’s going to be the second race. This is also great for people like myself as it gives fans a chance for a two week vacation with the possibility to enjoy up to nine days of racing within two weeks.
The west coast swing as they call it will keep its early slot on the schedule with just a minor change, where Auto Club is first up, followed by Las Vegas and Phoenix. A good change in my opinion as it’s nice to see the tracks move around a little bit, so we don’t end up with the same order year after year. There is an even bigger change coming to this part of the schedule for 2022, but I’ll be giving my view on that over the off-season.
Both Atlanta and Darlington are getting a second race each, which is one of the upsides to this schedule in my opinion. Atlanta has one of, if not the oldest surface on the circuit at the moment, and the racing there is always great because of this. It’s one of the few tracks where the drivers are constantly on the edge, even with this high downforce package they are running. Darlington is also a great track that puts on a heck of a show just about every time. The first thing that popped in to my head about that though is that the Southern 500 is one of the crown jewels of NASCAR, and now you’re going to have two races there? Well, upon a little bit closer inspection, the first race will be 310.6 miles (500 kilometres) with the second race being the 500 mile race. So that got cleared up quiet quickly.
The downside of this is that both Chicagoland and Kentucky are losing their dates. It’s never fun to see a track lose their races, and Chicagoland in particular usually puts on a good show. Hopefully these tracks will be back on the schedule soon, but then again, if you limit it to 36 races, there are only so many tracks you can go too.
The All-Star race is moving to Texas Motor Speedway. I like the idea of moving it around to a new track every season, but I would at least try and put it in close relation to the next or previous race so that you could attend two weekends, like they did with the 10 days of Thunder at Charlotte with the All-Star and Coca-Cola 600 being on back-to-back weekends. Here however they are racing on a Sunday, with the previous race being at Sonoma and the next one being in Nashville. Unless they are racing the Xfinity Series there on that same weekend, I just don’t see how they are ever going to get a decent attendance.
There are also a few new track added to the schedule, and this is probably my biggest question mark for this whole season. SIX road courses for next year (seven if you count the Clash), increasing it from the previous number of three. While most Chase Elliott fans are probably loving this, I myself am still not too sure on this. Three of these races will happen within five weeks as well, which is a bit odd, but hopefully they will put on a great show.
Since I’m not a big fan of neither Road America not Circuit Of The Americas though, I guess I might be biased, but I will give it a fair chance before judging it too much. The Brickyard 400 is being moved to the Indianapolis Road Course, which the Xfinity Series put on a great show at earlier this year, and then Dover is moving one of its races to Nashville Superspeedway, which I have no personal reference of what so ever, so that’s going to be a very interesting race to see how it unfolds. And last be absolutely not least, Bristol is changing one of its races to run on dirt?! It is probably going to be an amazing show, but people have been screaming for more short tracks, then they go and take 25% of the short track races and put it on dirt. I don’t really understand how that idea happened, but hopefully it will be a great race.
The playoffs remain pretty much unchanged, with only a couple of races switching positions. But having Daytona as the regular season finale, then Bristol, the ROVAL and Martinsville as the cutoff races yet again is the best they could’ve done.
Overall I am very excited about next seasons schedule, and it’s got a great potential for some very interesting and exciting races, and I thing we might see some surprise winners again. And again, the face that it’s giving us people living overseas quite a few options for travel if you want to attend two weekends in one go is amazing. But until the Xfinity and Truck Series schedules are released, I won’t be able to take a proper look at that bit, so I will simply leave that for something to write about during the off-season.
For now, let’s finish up 2020 with a bang!