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New (and old) venues set to scramble 2021 NASCAR schedule

Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton, and Dale Jarrett review the top storylines from the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season and look ahead to what the 2021 season has in store from a schedule, driver, and team perspective.

One of the most compelling schedules in recent years awaits NASCAR in 2021.

The calendar in each of NASCAR’s top three series is more diverse than it has been, thanks to new venues and different layouts on some familiar ones.

Here’s a closer look at those...

Bristol Motor Speedway - Dirt Track

2021 Dates: March 27 - Truck Series; March 28 - Cup Series

Layout: .533-mile oval; Banking - 24-28 degrees in turns

“The Last Great Colosseum” begins its 60th anniversary season by converting into a dirt track for the third time in its history (World of Outlaws, 2000-2001).

Last week, it was announced that the Truck Series will join the Cup Series on the Bristol spring weekend. It will be the first of two dirt track appearances for the Trucks in 2021, while the Cup Series will make its first appearance on dirt since 1970.

Circuit of the Americas - Austin, Texas

2021 Dates: May 22 - Xfinity & Truck Series; May 23 - Cup Series

Layout: Grand Prix - 3.41 miles, 20 turns; Short Course - 2.2 miles, 15 turns

First opened in 2012, COTA is the heart of a 1,500-acre complex outside Austin.

It annually hosts Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix and MotoGP’s Grand Prix of the Americas. It has also multiple other series, including IndyCar, IMSA, and the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The track’s signature features include a 133-foot uphill climb into the blind, left-hand Turn 1, as well as a 251-foot observation tower positioned next to the Turn 16-17-18 section.

Speedway Motorsports is promoting the NASCAR weekend at COTA.

Nashville Superspeedway - Lebanon, Tenn.

2021 Dates: June 18 - Truck Series; June 19 - Xfinity Series; June 20 - Cup Series

Layout: 1.33-mile concrete oval; Banking - 14 degrees in turns, 11 degrees on front-stretch

20 years after its creation - and 10 years after its closure - a revived Nashville Superspeedway will finally hit the big time.

In its first run from 2001-2011, the Dover Motorsports-owned track regularly hosted the Xfinity and Truck Series, as well as IndyCar - but never landed a prized Cup date.

In June, that will change as NASCAR’s top division makes its first visit to Middle Tennessee since 1984 at the Fairgrounds Speedway.

It’s the first of two major racing weekends for the region, as IndyCar will also return in August with the Music City Grand Prix street race.

Former Cup champions Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are among the past NASCAR winners at the Superspeedway.

Road America - Elkhart Lake, Wis.

2021 Dates: July 3 - Xfinity Series; July 4 - Cup Series

Layout: 4.048 miles, 14 turns

Nearly 65 years after hosting its first and only Cup race, Road America is back on the top division’s calendar with a plum 4th of July date.

Boasting multiple passing zones and many elevation changes, the Wisconsin road course has often been regarded as one of the best circuits in the world.

Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric won there this past August during a stellar mid-summer run, where he claimed five wins in a six-race span.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

2021 Dates: Aug. 14 - Xfinity Series; Aug. 15 - Cup Series

Layout: 2.439 miles, 14 turns

One year after the Xfinity Series moved from Indy’s legendary oval to its twisting road course, the Cup Series will follow suit in 2021 - ending the Brickyard 400 as we’ve known it after 27 years.

Cup’s debut on the IMS road course will be part of another IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader weekend. IndyCar and the Xfinity Series will run on Aug. 14, followed by Cup the following day.

Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway

2021 Dates: Truck Series - July 9

Layout: Half-mile dirt oval

The long-time home of the Knoxville Nationals sprint car event will host NASCAR for the first time when the Truck Series arrives in July.

Knoxville Raceway first began as a horse racing track during the late 1870s, and didn’t host its first auto race until 1901.

True to form, Knoxville’s inaugural NASCAR weekend will also include sprint car events for the USAC National Sprint Car Series and the POWRi War Sprints.

Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International

2021 Dates: Aug. 7 - Xfinity & Truck Series; Aug. 8 - Cup Series

Layout: 2.45 miles, 7 turns

The new date at this venerable New York State road course belongs to the Truck Series, which last competed at the Glen in 2000.

The Aug. 7 race will serve as the regular season finale for the Trucks, so expect plenty of aggression among those down to their last chance to make the playoffs.