2021 NASCAR Cup schedule features new tracks, bold changes
The 2021 Cup schedule features the first race on a dirt track for the series in more than 50 years, three new venues and six road course points races.
Responding to fan interest, the series adds three road course events to the 2021 schedule. Those new races are May 23 at Circuit of the Americas, July 4 at Road America and Aug. 15 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The other points races on road courses in 2021 will be at Sonoma, Watkins Glen and the Charlotte Roval. The Daytona road course will host the Busch Clash exhibition race.
The race that might gain the most attention, though, could be the March 28 Cup race at Bristol. The track will be converted to dirt.
There are no midweek races. Pocono Raceway continues to have the only doubleheader weekend. There is a two-week break in late July/early August during the Olympics. NBC’s portion of the schedule will begin with the June 20 race at Nashville Superspeedway.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president & chief racing development officer, says the plan is to have practice and qualifying for new venues (Circuit of the Americas, Road America, Nashville) and new configurations (Indy road course) along with key events (Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Phoenix championship weekend). The plan is for the other races to be one-day shows.
The schedule is flush with change. Here’s a look at those changes:
March 28 – Bristol Dirt race: It is the first Cup race on dirt since 1970 at Raleigh, a race won by Richard Petty.
May 9 – Darlington: The track that NASCAR returned to after the season was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic this year will host two races in 2021. The track adds a spring date and it will be run on Mother’s Day. It will be only the third time in the last 40 years Cup has run on Mother’s Day. The added race comes from Michigan International Speedway, which will have one race in 2021.
May 23 – Circuit of the Americas: Inaugural race for the series on the road course in Austin, Texas that has hosted Formula One and IndyCar, among other series.
June 13 – All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway: First time the All-Star race has been held at this track. Marks third different year for the event after being in Charlotte in 2019 and Bristol this year.
June 20 – Nashville: The 1.333-mile track will hold its first race for Cup. The track hosted Xfinity and Truck races from 2001-11. The date comes from a Dover, leaving that race with one NASCAR race weekend in 2021. This weekend begins NBC Sports’ coverage of NASCAR races.
July 4- Road America: Will host the Cup Series for the first time. Gets holiday weekend with July 4 date. The date comes from Chicagoland Speedway, which will not have a NASCAR race in 2021.
Aug. 15 – Indianapolis road course: After comping on the oval since 1994, Cup moves to the road course. Will be a part of a race weekend with the IndyCar Series.
OTHER DATES OF NOTE
Feb. 21 – Miami: Moves to second race of the season and comes a week after Daytona 500.
Feb. 28 – Auto Club: Moves up a week earlier and this will be its last race as a 2-mile track. Track will be converted into a short track after this event for 2022.
April 10 – Martinsville: Track hosted its first night race in June but did not have fans because of the coronavirus. This April race will be at night. Provided fans will be allowed at that point, it will be their first time to witness a night Cup race there.
July 25 & Aug. 1: No Cup races because of the Olympics.
Sept. 5 - Nov. 7: Cup playoffs. Same 10 tracks as 2020. Only difference is Texas and Kansas flip-flop weekends in the Round of 8. Texas will open that round on Oct. 17. Kansas will follow on Oct. 24. Round of 8 ends at Martinsville on Oct. 31. Phoenix again will host the title race, doing so Nov. 7.
2021 NASCAR CUP SERIES SCHEDULE
(Times, weekend schedule and TV info to be announced later)
|Date||Race / Track|
|Tuesday, February 9||Clash (Daytona Road Course)|
|Thursday, February 11||Duel at Daytona|
|Sunday, February 14||Daytona 500|
|Sunday, February 21||Homestead-Miami|
|Sunday, February 28||Auto Club|
|Sunday, March 7||Las Vegas|
|Sunday, March 14||Phoenix|
|Sunday, March 21||Atlanta|
|Sunday, March 28||Bristol Dirt|
|Saturday, April 10||Martinsville|
|Sunday, April 18||Richmond|
|Sunday, April 25||Talladega|
|Sunday, May 2||Kansas|
|Sunday, May 9||Darlington|
|Sunday, May 16||Dover|
|Sunday, May 23||COTA|
|Sunday, May 30||Charlotte|
|Sunday, June 6||Sonoma|
|Sunday, June 13||All-Star (Texas)|
|Sunday, June 20||Nashville Superspeedway|
|Saturday & Sunday, June 26-27||Pocono Doubleheader|
|Sunday, July 4||Road America|
|Sunday, July 11||Atlanta|
|Sunday, July 18||New Hampshire|
|Sunday, August 8||Watkins Glen|
|Sunday, August 15||Indianapolis Road Course|
|Sunday, August 22||Michigan|
|Saturday, August 28||Daytona|
|Sunday, September 5||Darlington|
|Saturday, September 11||Richmond|
|Saturday, September 18||Bristol|
|Sunday, September 26||Las Vegas|
|Sunday, October 3||Talladega|
|Sunday, October 10||Charlotte Roval|
|Sunday, October 17||Texas|
|Sunday, October 24||Kansas|
|Sunday, October 31||Martinsville|
|Sunday, November 7||Phoenix|
- Races in bold are playoff races