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Xfinity Series Spotlight: Playoff drivers share who they want to win title for

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After being awarded the Xfinity Series regular-season championship, Elliott Sadler reminded everyone who he wanted to win his first NASCAR championship for.

“I want to hand my trophy to my parents,” Sadler said last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. “That’s what I want to do. You don’t realize until you get older how much your parents sacrificed when you were a kid to make sure you were in good equipment, whether it was in go-karts or late models or maybe investing money in your career when you first started Xfinity racing or Busch racing back then.”

With the start of the Xfinity playoffs Saturday at Kentucky Speedway (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN), NBC Sports asked the other 11 playoff drivers who they wanted to win a championship for.

Here are the best responses.

Brennan Poole (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

Brennan Poole – Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet

“You do it for yourself because it’s what you love to do. I fight for it because I want that. But my parents sacrificed a lot to get me to this point. My dad spent a lot of time with me on the road and mom missed a lot those moments with me because I was traveling so much racing. I lived here (in Charlotte) on my own when I was 17, I lived on a guy’s sofa for a year until I turned 18 and got an apartment. But my parents were still in Texas. They didn’t move here until just last year. There’s five or six years of us apart while I was trying to go after this.

“I’ve been very blessed and very fortunate to have an amazing family like I had. I think it would be awesome to stand there and win that championship just for all those moments that they went through to get me there. But also, my parents weren’t a racing family. My dad wanted me to play golf. I’ve been very fortunate I’ve always had the right people come along in my life at the right time through quarter midgets and legends cars and dirt modifieds and late models and ARCA and now Xfinity. To help me get to that next level. To teach me the things I needed to get to the next step. It will be a huge payment to everybody that believed in me to get me to this point.”

Ryan Reed – Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 16 Ford

“I think your family is always really important to every race car driver. They’ve had a lot of help to get here. No one did it on their own. A lot of times it’s their family. But for me, after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, obviously my partner Lilly Diabetes, who stuck with me essentially from the beginning. But then also for every person living with Diabetes. I would venture to guess 90 percent of them have been told they can’t do something because of diabetes. Winning a championship would absolutely be dedicated to all of them.”

Justin Allgaier (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Justin Allgaier – JR Motorsports’ No. 7 Chevrolet

“I think my dad. When I won the ARCA championship, my dad was somebody that was hugely instrumental in that. That would be huge to be able to surmount that. We’ve had a lot of loss at JR Motorsports this year. Adam Wright for us was somebody that was a huge part in making sure this four-car team succeeded. Obviously, that’s something we’re thinking about. We’d love to win a championship for him. … I think anytime you have that it makes these emotions of when things go well that much better.”

William Byron – JR Motorsports’ No. 5 Chevrolet

“I think about people that helped me in my in legend cars, my crew chief there, Dennis (Lambert), Rudy (Fugle) last year ( in the Camping World Truck Series) helped me. I saw how those guys hated to see how it unfolded last year. All those people that helped me get to this point. My parents obviously. Liberty (University), everyone. Hopefully everyone can be excited about it and when can go out and win it and be able to show those people all the support they’ve given me, be able to give back to them.”

Matt Tifft – Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 19 Toyota

“Definitely my mom and dad for sticking with me through this whole progression of my career. They’ve stood behind me. My dad’s been to every race since I started racing when I was 12. Obviously they’ve helped me a lot and encouraged me to go after my dreams and do what I love to do with this. At the same I think it’s well known my story and I’d love to be able and go do that to be a champion for all those who have gone through things similar to me with the brain surgery world and the brain tumor world I should say. I’d like to be able and go out and prove myself for that reason.”

Daniel Hemric (Getty Images)

Daniel Hemric – Richard Childress Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet

“The first thing my mind goes to is for the hard-nosed short-track racer that will not ever get an opportunity like this. I’m one of the few that’s been fortunate to be given this seat to sit in and be able to have the opportunity to run for a championship. I think if I could hoist that trophy at Homestead it would be kind of one of those, ‘Hey, it can still be done the old fashioned way’ kind of things.”

Brendan Gaughan – Richard Childress Racing’s No. 62 Chevrolet

“Me … me … me. I’ve had a lot of people get me through this. This would be for everybody, but listen, anybody that says, ‘Oh, it’s going to be…’, no. You want to win championships for your sponsor, for yourself or your owner, yes, all that’s great. I’ve been doing this 20 years. I would love to get another championship, especially at this point in my career. That’s what we do it for and I would love to be able to catch it now.

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:

NEW EVENTS

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. 

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

 

 

All-Star Race moves to Texas in 2021

All-Star Race
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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

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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).