NASCAR’s playoff schedule will look significantly different in 2018 with a new race leading into it and all three first-round races new.
For the first time since it was put on the schedule in 1994, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will move from its summer spot to Sept. 9 and be the final race before the playoffs begin.
The Brickyard 400 will lead into a revamped first round that will see the playoffs begin for the first time at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept. 16. The playoff opener will be the second race at Las Vegas, which got the date from New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Richmond International Raceway, which had been the final race before the playoffs since 2004, moves into the playoffs and will be the second race in the opening round on Sept. 22, a Saturday night.
Charlotte Motor Speedway will be the cutoff race in the first round on Sept. 30, but that race will be competed on the track’s roval— combining its oval and infield road course
The changes dramatically alter the type of tracks in the 10-race playoff, which will still end in Miami on Nov. 18.
There will be one road course (Charlotte), one restrictor-plate track (Talladega), two short tracks (Richmond and Martinsville), two 1-mile tracks (Dover and Phoenix) and four 1.5-mile tracks (Las Vegas, Kansas, Texas and Miami).
The race at Chicagoland Speedway moves from September to June.
The final 11 races of the 2018 season will be:
Sept. 9 — Indianapolis Motor Speedway (final race before playoffs)
Sept. 16 — Las Vegas (playoff opener)
Sept. 22 — Richmond
Sept. 30 — Charlotte (oval/infield road course – end of first round)
Oct. 7 — Dover (start of second round)
Oct. 14 — Talladega
Oct. 21 — Kansas (end of second round)
Oct. 28 — Martinsville (start of third round)
Nov. 4 — Texas
Nov. 11 — Phoenix (end of third round)
Nov. 18 — Miami (championship)