NASCAR implemented a rule stating crews cannot purposefully flare out side skirts, but race-winner Matt Kenseth finished in Michigan with his right side out. Taking a closer look, it looks to be a complete accident by the jack man.
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
Pretty big change up in the 2021 schedule. New tracks, new configurations, going to be unique for sure. Looking forward to it. 👍🏻
— Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) September 30, 2020
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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).