Bill Elliott on the NASCAR Hall of Fame and how he prepared his son for handling stardom

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        DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A fan favorite who once was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver a record 16 times, Bill Elliott is accustomed to being the object of affection.

But the adulation has changed since Elliott was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame last year.

“It’s kind of rejuvenated everything from the standpoint of the fans and the recognition and stuff like that,” Elliott told NBC Sports. “I think it’s definitely different.

“They want you to sign things ‘Hall of Fame,’ and they bring back the old stuff. It kind of validates everything they’ve collected.”

After being inducted with Rex White, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott and Joe Weatherly into the Charlotte shrine Jan. 30 (the night after his son, Chase, was announced as the 2016 replacement for Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Chevrolet), Elliott has been stumping for the Hall of Fame. The 1988 series champion made a series of promotional stops last month during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, including a sitdown interview with NASCAR Talk:

NT: Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett both said they felt extra responsibility to be Hall of Fame ambassadors because each class doesn’t have five living members? Do you feel that same need to be a spokesman?

BE: Very much so. To me, it’s been important because I am still around. Some of these guys like a Rex White or Fred (Lorenzen) or some guys that were exposed through the 1950s and ‘60s era, to be able to listen to their stories and help carry that to the next generation, I think that’s important. Those guys paved the road for us and for future generations. (Telling) what their contributions were to the sport, I think that’s the legacy of the whole thing.

NT: So you agree with Richard Petty, who said he didn’t feel he should be in the first class of the Hall of Fame because everyone from the first decade of NASCAR should have been recognized before him?

BE: I agree. But I am thankful that I am able to enjoy it and understand it and be a part of it for the older generation that might be either gone or not able to enjoy it.

NT: You weren’t always comfortable in the spotlight. Is it any more comfortable now that you’re being recognized after your career?
It’s fine now. Back in the early days, I worked on a car just like anybody else. We felt like if the race car run good, the rest would come. Our biggest goal was to make sure the race car ran fast. That’s what I felt like I could do best. As time goes on, now I’m kind of here and part of the show. It’s a different deal, but I enjoy it. I enjoy seeing the younger groups come up and who’s doing what. I understand racing enough to know what it’s kind of all about and the things that I enjoy about it. I still have, like Benny Parsons said, I have a passion for the sport.

NT: Your son is so comfortable and mature beyond his years talking with media …

BE: So far. (smiles) He’s done a good job.

NT: Did you work on instilling those values, or has it been natural?

BE: It’s been all pretty natural. We’ve talked to him about certain things, but he grew up in it. He understands the sport. I think he understands it better than most. He knows the things that are important. He watches the interviews after the race. He studies everything. I think he’s just very analytical in the things that he does. He’s able to put all that together. That’s been his strengths.

NT: What was it like having your Hall of Fame induction coming on the heels of his No. 24 news?

BE: I think his announcement was bigger than mine!

NT: But the events dovetailed nicely for your family?

BE: Believe me, I was as shocked as you all were, because they didn’t tell us until two days before the announcement. You’d hope something like that would happen, but for it to really come to light and finally things come together, it was like, ‘Hey man, this is an incredible week.’ It was just such an enjoyable week. It was laid back, a lot of fun, it was great to see a lot of the older guys I hadn’t seen like Bud Moore, Maurice Petty, Dale Inman. I grew up around that. They were all so much a part of your life for so long.

NT: Are you in awe of one Hall of Famer in particular?

BE: Leonard (Wood) was always kind of my hero because as hard as I worked on the car in the early days. I’ll never forget coming to Daytona, and I could watch Leonard work on his car. He could work on the motor and never raise the hood. He’d put it on jackstands, take the front tires off, and he’d get in there and change things. He’d be secretive in what he was doing. I thought, ‘Man, that was cool.’ I always enjoyed Bud, Junior (Johnson) and all those guys and listening to the stories. Dale Inman was always a cutup and into something. I just couldn’t imagine being around those guys in the 50s and 60s.

I’ve enjoyed this. It’s been a lot of fun and been very much an honor for me to be in this class. It just puts the topping on my career.

2021 NASCAR Cup schedule features new tracks, bold changes

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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.

July 11 – Atlanta: Kentucky race date moves to Atlanta to give track a second race. The first race at the track in 2021 will be March 21.

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. 


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.



(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



All-Star Race moves to Texas in 2021

All-Star Race
Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
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The All-Star Race moves to Texas Motor Speedway in 2021, marking the third different track the event will held in a three-year period.

The 2021 race will be held June 13, the track announced Wednesday. Eddie Gossage, track president, said the race will be at night. He said he will talk to NASCAR about a format and wants to have fans play a role in the event.

The complete 2021 Cup schedule will be announced Wednesday afternoon by NASCAR.

MORE: COTA to host Cup road course race in 2021

MORE: 2021 Cup schedule features new tracks, bold changes 

The All-Star Race was held from 1985-2019 at Charlotte Motor Speedway except for 1986 when Atlanta Motor Speedway held the race. The event moved to Bristol Motor Speedway in July because of COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings in North Carolina.

Chase Elliott won Bristol All-Star Race.

Texas also announced it will host a NASCAR Camping World Truck race June 11 on All-Star weekend. The Xfinity Series will race June 12.

Texas will remain in the playoffs in 2021. It will host a Cup playoff race Oct. 17. The Xfinity Series will race at Texas on Oct. 16.

NASCAR Cup Series to go dirt trackin’ at Bristol in 2021

Photo: Bristol Motor Speedway
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Cup teams will compete on a dirt track for the first time in more than 50 years when the series races March 28 at Bristol Motor Speedway, the track announced. 

The full Cup schedule is set to be released at 3:30 p.m. ET today.

“Bristol Motor Speedway has hosted many historic events over the years and we will be adding to that resume,” Jerry Caldwell, general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, said on Wednesday. “We can’t wait to see how the stars of NASCAR take to the dirt.”

MORE: 2021 Cup schedule features new tracks, bold changes 

Said Austin Dillon of the race on dirt: “I’m super pumped. … I’m hoping it becomes a staple.”

Caldwell said the track will work with NASCAR on the race format for the dirt event.

“This is returning to our roots in racing,” Caldwell said. He noted that this concept has been talked about for “awhile.” He also said the track will “explore other options” on any other series that could race on dirt beyond NASCAR.

Caldwell said the change comes from feedback from fans. Marcus Smith, Speedway Motorsports President and CEO, said Wednesday that he pitched the idea of a dirt race at Bristol for the 2020 schedule.

Bristol hosted dirt races in 2000-01 with the World of Outlaws (see video below of 2001 race) and dirt late models. The track used 14,000 truckloads of dirt for the project.

The last Cup race on dirt was Sept. 30, 1970 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. Richard Petty won a 200-lap race on the half-mile track. He earned $1,000. Petty was among one of five Hall of Famers in the 23-car field that day. Bobby Isaac finished third, Bobby Allison placed sixth, Benny Parsons was 14th, Wendell Scott placed 20th.

The NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series raced on dirt at Eldora Speedway from 2013-19. It was not held this year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Bristol also will host a second race. That event again will be in the playoffs. The Sept. 18 race again will be an elimination race in the first round. The playoff race will be on the concrete track surface.

Road America to host 2021 Cup race on July 4

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Food, fireworks and road course racing will fill the July 4 calendar for NASCAR fans with Road America hosting the Cup series on that holiday weekend in 2021.

The track announced the race date Wednesday. The full Cup schedule is set to be released at 3:30 p.m. ET today.

The 4.048-mile course has hosted Xfinity races since 2010. Among the current Cup drivers who won there in the Xfinity Series are Michael McDowell in 2016 and Christopher Bell in 2019.

MORE: Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

MORE: Circuit of the Americas to host Cup for first time in 2021

MORE: 2021 Cup schedule features new tracks, bold changes 

The track takes the holiday date that had been held by Daytona International Speedway from 1959-2018 before Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted the Cup Series that weekend last year.

“We certainly have been working very close with (Road America) not only how we bring this to life but, ultimately, where it was going to be located on the schedule,” Ben Kennedy, NASCAR vice president of racing operations, told NBC Sports, said of adding the Wisconsin track to the schedule. “We started to really toss around the idea of hey, what about July 4th weekend and what would that look like for the track?

“Just even the name, Road America, it feels like Americana and the July 4th weekend and everything. Fireworks, camping and cookout, everything that goes along with it. That track is almost synonymous with it. I think that’s where we really ended up kind of tying Road America to July 4th weekend. Working with NBC on that as well, they are certainly very bullish on it and excited about having Road America on that weekend.”

Tim Flock won the lone Cup race at Road America in 1956. Flock was among nine NASCAR Hall of Famers among the 26 drivers in that race. Others included Fireball Roberts (third), Herb Thomas (sixth), Buck Baker (eighth), Rex White (11th), Lee Petty (13th), Joe Weatherly (20th), Curtis Turner (24th) and Junior Johnson (26th).