NASCAR is revealing its schedule for the 2021 season, and multiple changes abound for the NASCAR Cup Series.
Atlanta Motor Speedway will run two Cup races for the first time in 11 years, on March 21 and July 11. The latter date moved sponsorship from Kentucky Speedway, which was announced as one of two tracks removed from the schedule. July’s race is the Quaker State 400, while March’s event is the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. AMS is planning to allow a limited number of fans in the stands and camping areas for both events.
Darlington Raceway also gets a second Cup event next year after hosting three in 2020 but just one for many years prior. The first event will be on Mother’s Day, May 9, and the second will be the traditional Southern 500 to open the Cup playoffs on Sept. 5. Per NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell on Twitter, both races will use the low downforce package.
Two road courses will make their debuts in the Cup Series in 2021. For the first time in Cup history, drivers will take on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course on Aug. 15. The Xfinity Series competed on the 2.439-mile course in July. Additionally, the NTT IndyCar Series will also run the road course the day before the Cup race.
The second new road course revealed was Circuit of the Americas; its Cup race is on May 23. Tony Stewart drove one of his team cars there last October as a demonstration. COTA has two layouts; Formula 1 and IndyCar competed on the 3.41-mile course. There’s also a shorter, 15-turn layout. The Cup race’s specifications will be revealed at a later date.
Then, for the first time since 1956, Cup will race at Road America on July 4. Last year, IMS’ oval held the event on Independence Day weekend, while Daytona International Speedway hosted it from 1959-2018. The NXS currently competes on the 4.048-mile track; Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell have both won there.
Cup’s going dirt track racing, too. Bristol Motor Speedway will be transformed into a dirt track when it hosts its spring event on March 28. It will be the first time the series races on dirt since 1970, when Richard Petty won at North Carolina State Fairgrounds. Bristol also ran dirt events for the World of Outlaws and dirt late models in 2000-01. The Gander RV & Outdoors Trucks competed on Eldora Speedway from 2013-19, but couldn’t run in 2020 due to COVID-19. Bristol’s second date will be on Sept. 18.
Phoenix Raceway will once again host all three series’ championships from Nov. 5-7. Cup’s spring event will be held on March 14.
The All-Star Race will move to the Lone Star State next season, as Texas Motor Speedway hosts its first All-Star event on June 13. The Race and Open was moved to Bristol this past July due to COVID-19 restrictions in North Carolina. Charlotte Motor Speedway held the majority of All-Star events prior to this year. Cup teams will return to Texas for a playoff race on Oct. 17. INDYCAR will also run a doubleheader May 1-2. NXS drivers will compete on June 12 and Oct. 16, while the Trucks are scheduled for June 11.
As was previously announced, Nashville Superspeedway will host a Cup race on June 20. The event marks the first race airing on NBC.
Daytona will once again be the Cup regular season finale on Aug. 28.
Here is the full 2021 Cup schedule:
Feb. 14 — Daytona International Speedway
Feb. 21 — Homestead-Miami Speedway
Feb. 28 — Auto Club Speedway (Final event on the 2-mile layout)
March 7 — Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 14 — Phoenix Raceway
March 21 — Atlanta Motor Speedway
March 28 — Bristol Motor Speedway (dirt)
April 10 — Martinsville Speedway
April 18 — Richmond Raceway
April 25 — Talladega Superspeedway
May 2 — Kansas Speedway
May 9 — Darlington Raceway
May 16 — Dover International Speedway
May 23 — Circuit of the Americas
May 30 — Charlotte Motor Speedway
June 6 — Sonoma Raceway
June 13 — Texas Motor Speedway, All-Star Race
June 20 — Nashville Superspeedway
June 26 — Pocono Raceway
June 27 — Pocono Raceway
July 4 — Road America
July 11 — Atlanta Motor Speedway
July 18 — New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Aug. 8 — Watkins Glen International
Aug. 15 — Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
Aug. 22 — Michigan International Speedway
Aug. 28 — Daytona International Speedway (regular season finale)
Sept. 5 — Darlington Raceway (Round of 16 begins)
Sept. 11 — Richmond Raceway
Sept. 18 — Bristol Motor Speedway
Sept. 26 — Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Round of 12 begins)
Oct. 3 — Talladega Superspeedway
Oct. 10 — Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL
Oct. 17 — Texas Motor Speedway (Round of 8 begins)
Oct. 24 — Kansas Speedway
Oct. 31 — Martinsville Speedway
Nov. 7 — Phoenix Raceway (Championship)