On Friday, NASCAR competition officials confirmed that eight Cup races this season will be conducted with practice and qualifying sessions.
Following the 2021 Cup schedule’s release last September, chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell mentioned a plan to hold practice and qualifying sessions ahead of races at new venues and configurations, as well as at other key events.
Today’s confirmation proves that to be the case. Here’s the list of races:
- Feb. 14 – Daytona 500
- March 28 – Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt
- May 23 – Circuit of the Americas
- May 30 – Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
- June 20 – Nashville Superspeedway
- July 4 – Road America
- Aug. 15 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
- Nov. 7 – NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway
Per NASCAR, officials indicated that plans to potentially include practice and qualifying sessions for NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races will be determined at a later date.
Additionally, official weekend schedules, including details on a qualifying format and amount of practice time, have not been released.
Following NASCAR’s return to competition last May after a two-month pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, a majority of events were held without practice or qualifying sessions in order to streamline race weekends and slow the spread of COVID-19.
Initially, starting lineups for the majority of races were determined via random draw. But later in the year, NASCAR introduced a performance-based metrics system to create the starting lineups and the order for pit selection.