NASCAR 2022 schedules: Major changes, tripleheaders and key details

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With Wednesday’s announcement of the 2022 Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series schedules, all three NASCAR national series have revealed their schedules for next season.

The premier Cup Series put theirs out Sept. 15. Their 2022 docket builds upon NASCAR’s recent drive to create a more diverse calendar.

Part of that drive has included entering new markets. Next season’s Cup schedule includes the NASCAR Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and a race at World Wide Technology Raceway outside St. Louis.

NASCAR surely hopes those markets will take to Cup like Nashville and Road America did earlier this season. The inaugural Cup races at the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway and the 4-mile Wisconsin road course drew big crowds that delivered a great atmosphere.

“To have a sold-out crowd (at Nashville), so much energy around that event, I think it really speaks to the decisions that were made, again, how many fans we have in that Nashville area,” Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president of strategy and innovation, said on Sept. 15. “Same thing goes for Road America, as an example. A ton of great fans out there.

“I don’t know if it is eye-opening, but one of the neatest things to see is kind of the reception we’ve had from the fan base and from the industry for a lot of these changes we’ve made within the schedule.”

More changes await across the NASCAR national series in 2022. Let’s take a look…

WHICH TRACKS ARE IN? WHICH TRACKS ARE OUT?

Cup Series

  • IN: World Wide Technology Raceway – The 1.25-mile oval near St. Louis, once on the brink of extinction a decade ago, completes its comeback with its first Cup race on June 5, 2022.
  • IN: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – The historic stadium will host the exhibition Clash on Feb. 6, 2022, two weeks before the season officially begins Feb. 20 at the Daytona 500.
  • OUT: Daytona International Speedway road course – The 3.61-mile circuit has hosted NASCAR tripleheader weekends (Cup, Xfinity, Truck) for the past two seasons, but was “tabled” for 2022 according to Kennedy on Wednesday. He noted that future NASCAR national series races on the circuit was “something that we’ll definitely take a look at.”
  • OUT: Pocono Raceway’s doubleheader – The Tricky Triangle hosted Cup doubleheaders in June the past two seasons but will be down to a lone Cup race next season (July 24).

Xfinity Series

  • IN: Portland International Raceway – The 1.964-mile road course will host its first Xfinity race on June 4, 2022. Kennedy said about Portland’s addition: “We’ve seen a lot of growth from a fan perspective in the Pacific Northwest. It’s important for us to get back there and do it in a meaningful way with Green Savoree (Racing Promotions) and the rest of the teams out there.”
  • OUT: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – Portland replaces Mid-Ohio, which has held Xfinity Series races since 2013. But the undulating road course won’t be without NASCAR next season (see below).

Camping World Truck Series

  • IN: Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis – The .686-mile bullring is returning to a NASCAR national series schedule for the first time since 2011.
  • IN: Sonoma Raceway – When the Truck Series last raced here in 1998, it was still largely based around short tracks and Sonoma Raceway was still Sears Point. Times have changed.
  • IN: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – With Mid-Ohio heading for the Truck schedule, you can bet ThorSport Racing, based an hour and a half north in Sandusky, Ohio, has circled this race in red.
  • OUT: Watkins Glen International – The Glen hosted this year’s Truck regular season finale, but with falling off the Truck schedule entirely, Pocono will take over that role in 2022.
  • OUT: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – COVID-related logistics issues led to the cancellation of this race in 2020 and 2021. It’s those same issues Kennedy cited as a reason for CTMP not being on the 2022 schedule, while adding that NASCAR has kept in touch with the track’s management.

PLAYOFF CHANGES

Cup Series

The three Cup playoff elimination races will stay at Bristol Motor Speedway (Round of 16), the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Round of 12), and Martinsville Speedway (Round of 8) next season. But getting to those elimination races will be different.

  • Round of 16: Kansas Speedway replaces Richmond Raceway as the second race of the opening round. Richmond’s second Cup race moves to mid-August, joining the final stretch of the regular season.
  • Round of 12: Texas Motor Speedway replaces Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the opening race of the second round.
  • Round of 8: In a corresponding move, Las Vegas replaces Texas as the opening race of the third round. From Vegas, the playoffs will head to Homestead-Miami Speedway, which replaces Kansas as the second race of the third round.

Xfinity Series

The Texas-Vegas date swap and addition of Homestead-Miami also impacts the Xfinity Series playoffs.

  • Round of 12: Texas replaces Las Vegas as the opening race of the first round.
  • Round of 8: Las Vegas replaces Texas as the opening race of the second round. Homestead-Miami replaces Kansas as the second race in that round.

Camping World Truck Series

The Truck Series playoffs are getting a major overhaul. Only the Round of 8 race at Talladega Superspeedway and the championship race at Phoenix Raceway will be left unchanged.

Additionally, the playoffs will start nearly a month earlier. Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis will host the opener on July 29, 2022. World Wide Technology Raceway hosted this year’s opener on Aug. 20.

  • Round of 10: The opening round will be completely different. Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis will lead off. Richmond will host the second race. Then comes Kansas, which replaces Bristol as the first elimination race.
  • Round of 8: Bristol moves one spot down the calendar to become the opening race of the second round. Following the second race at Talladega, Homestead-Miami will host the second and final elimination race before Phoenix.
  • Ben Kennedy on Truck playoff changes: “I think having two short tracks with Lucas Oil and Richmond, along with a mile-and-a-half track, will bring some diversity to that first portion of the playoffs. Then going from Bristol to Talladega to Miami, which always puts on a fantastic race, I think it will be a really great and interesting part of that next round of playoffs before we go to the championship at Phoenix.”

2022 TRIPLEHEADER WEEKENDS

Next season, 17 weekends will feature the Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series in points-paying races:

  • Feb. 18-20 – Daytona International Speedway
  • March 4-6 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway
  • March 19-20 – Atlanta Motor Speedway
  • March 26-27 – Circuit of the Americas (Austin, Tex.)
  • Apr. 7-9 – Martinsville Speedway
  • May 6-8 – Darlington Raceway
  • May 27-29 – Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • June 4-5 – WWT Raceway (Cup, Truck) and Portland Int’l Raceway (Xfinity)
  • June 24-26 – Nashville Superspeedway
  • July 9-10 – Atlanta Motor Speedway (Cup, Xfinity) and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Truck)
  • July 23-24 – Pocono Raceway
  • July 29-31 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (Cup, Xfinity) and Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis (Truck)
  • Sept. 9-11 – Kansas Speedway
  • Sept. 15-17 – Bristol Motor Speedway
  • Oct. 1-2 – Talladega Superspeedway
  • Oct. 22-23 – Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • Nov. 4-6 – Phoenix Raceway

Additionally, the May 20-22 weekend at Texas Motor Speedway will include the exhibition NASCAR All-Star Race for select Cup Series drivers, as well as points-paying races for the Xfinity and Truck Series.

EVOLUTION OF THE CUP SCHEDULE

Let’s go back to 2017. At that point, many elements of the Cup schedule felt sacrosanct.

The majority of venues hosted two races. Daytona had Speedweeks and the 4th of July. Sonoma and Watkins Glen were the lone road courses. Mother’s Day and Easter were spent at home.

In the five years since, all of those elements have been swept aside.

The 2022 Cup schedule includes nine tracks that will host two races: A newly reconfigured Atlanta, Richmond, Daytona, Darlington, Kansas, Talladega, Las Vegas, Martinsville and Phoenix. During the 2017 season, 13 tracks hosted two races.

Next year’s run-up to the Daytona 500 will be a mere five days with the Clash’s move to Los Angeles. Daytona moved its summer date from the 4th of July weekend to the regular season finale back in 2020.

And while the Daytona road course won’t be visited in 2022, that still leaves a healthy six road races on the schedule.

This past year at Darlington, the Cup Series raced on Mother’s Day for the first time since 2007. Next year, they’ll end an even longer absence when it comes to Easter.

The Bristol dirt race – that wasn’t on the 2017 schedule, either – will be the first Cup race on Easter since Rusty Wallace won at Richmond on March 26, 1989.

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.