On the eve of the reported 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule’s release, NASCAR confirmed that both Chicagoland Speedway and Kentucky Speedway will lose their dates.
A report from The Athletic on Tuesday (Sept. 29) solidified the removal ahead of the full schedule’s unveiling on Sept. 30.
According to the report, the changes come as a result of fans’ complaints of too many tracks 1.5-2 miles in length.
The removals mark the first time a track was struck from the Cup schedule since 2004, when Rockingham lost its date.
Additionally, Chicagoland will no longer feature the Xfinity Series, Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series or ARCA Menards Series, according to an announcement on the track’s website.
NASCAR had already announced a pair of changes – first a revamping of Auto Club Speedway into a half-mile short track, and later Texas Motor Speedway’s loss of a points race date and instead hosting of the 2021 All-Star Race.
As for Chicagoland, the track did not host a race in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alex Bowman holds the title of most recent winner, scoring his first career victory during the 2019 race.
“This is bad for (the city of Joliet). It was a great event,” Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk told The Athletic. “It certainly helped businesses, local restaurants and hotels. I haven’t talked to the (city) council but I know are very disappointed by it. As far as they know it’s a one-year decision right now. There’s no indication either way about what would happen moving forward.”
“[The move is] by no means a reflection of the support our fans have demonstrated,” Chicagoland Speedway’s Scott Paddock said in a statement on the track’s website. “Rather, it is a desire and an important step for the industry to incorporate new markets and new courses into the schedule, and expand the variety of competition.”
From Chicagoland Speedway President, Scott Paddock pic.twitter.com/MP3MDKfRlb
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) September 29, 2020
“…It’s difficult at this time to speculate on what 2022 might bring,” Paddock added. “We will continue to work with NASCAR on potential future opportunities beyond 2021 and will keep [the fans] updated.”
Kentucky last hosted a race in 2020, won by Cole Custer. Custer’s win was, like Bowman’s, his first career victory. The track has not yet made a statement regarding the report.