Takeaways of 2017 NASCAR schedules

Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

A few things to note with the release of the 2017 NASCAR schedules for the Sprint Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series:

— Texas Motor Speedway’s spring race moves from Saturday night to Sunday, April 9. That race was scheduled for Saturday night in four of the last five years.

“Between meetings with our fan council, feedback from season-ticket holders and Texas Motor Speedway fans in general, the overall sentiment is that they preferred a Sunday race because it provided a more expansive weekend of activities,’’ said Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway.

Sprint Cup: 2017 schedule

Xfinity: 2017 schedule

Camping World Truck: 2017 schedule

— Times have not been set for next year’s races. That will come much later. Provided the races have similar start times as this year, there will be eight points races at night with Texas moving to Sunday afternoon. If so, that would mean that NASCAR would go from 10 points races at night in 2015 to eight in 2017.

Richmond’s spring race moved from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon this season. Much of the push by the industry that weekend was about getting children to the track. Children rode in the pickup trucks with drivers before the race during intros, and many competitors made comments about families being able to take children to a Sunday afternoon race that weekend.

— The 10 Chase tracks remain the same, but Kansas Speedway will be the final race in the second round after flipping with Talladega Superspeedway. Since eliminations were added to the Chase, Kansas Speedway has been shifted to every slot in the second round. The track was the opening race in the second round in the 2014 Chase, moved to the middle race last year and will be the cutoff race in that round next year.

— The 10 Chase tracks have remained the same since 2011.

— There are two off-weekends on the Sprint Cup schedule in 2017. There were three off weekends this season. The series will be off April 16 for Easter and Aug. 27. The August off-weekend comes between the races of Bristol (Aug. 19) and the Southern 500 (Sept. 3).

— Sprint Cup drivers who will celebrate birthdays at the track next year: Casey Mears (March 12 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway), Jimmie Johnson (Sept. 17 at Chicagoland Speedway to open the Chase) and Chris Buescher (Oct. 29 at Martinsville Speedway),

— The Xfintiy/Camping World Truck Series doubleheader at Atlanta returns on March 4. It’s the only time next season both series will race on the same day at the same track.

— The Xfinity Series again will bunch its road courses together with three in four weeks. The series will race Aug. 5 at Watkins Glen, Aug. 12 at Mid-Ohio and Aug. 26 at Road America. Only Bristol (Aug. 18) separates those events.

— The Truck season again will have several weekends off early in the season. After opening Feb. 24 at Daytona and going to Atlanta on March 4, the series is off until April 1 at Martinsville. After that, the series doesn’t race again until May 12 at Kansas.

NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.