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In a perfect world: NASCAR's schedule redone

Updated on October 14, 2013
Do NASCAR's top officials have the willingness to overhaul the current schedule? It hasn't happened yet
Do NASCAR's top officials have the willingness to overhaul the current schedule? It hasn't happened yet | Source
A look outside the Daytona grandstands at night
A look outside the Daytona grandstands at night | Source

It's generally accepted that NASCAR could be greatly improved by a schedule overhaul to both balance out the tracks and to bring more racing action to the circuit. Yet with billions of dollars to be paid over the next decade in TV money, there's little chance that the series will either cut races or make the kinds of adjustments that many fans would like to see. The fact that two companies (NASCAR-controlled International Speedway Corp and Bruton's Smith's Speedway Motorsports Inc) control virtually every track on the circuit makes change even less likey. Yet it's interesting to consider what the 39 weeks between Daytona and Homestead could look like if those key facts were set aside.


A few notes going in. First, if a track has not recently hosted a race for one of the three major national series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide, or Camping World Truck) then it's unlikely to find a place here. A track that hasn't made the cut likely does not have the infrastructure or safety facilities necessary for the Cup cars. Second, we will assume that everything is one the table- including exhibition races and off-weeks. How and when breaks are taken can have a major impact on the ability for NASCAR to build momentum with the public and that fact is virtually ignored on the current schedule. Finally, we've added an exhibition race to the schedule (more on that later) that doesn't extend the season for either the current drivers or teams.

Segment One: The opening run

(click column header to sort results)
Week Number  
Race  
Track  
0.
Budweiser Duels at Daytona
Daytona
1.
Daytona 500
Daytona
2.
NRA 500
Texas
3.
Subway Fresh Fit 500
Phoenix
4.
Kobalt Tools 400
Las Vegas
5.
Auto Club 400
Auto Club
6.
Sprint Future Stars event (exhibition)
Bristol
Kicking off the season at Daytona is the right thing to do but there's no reason to hold four races there
Kicking off the season at Daytona is the right thing to do but there's no reason to hold four races there | Source

Check out prior Daytona 500 events on DVD

Weeks 0 and 1 – Budweiser Duels and the Daytona 500

Current Week – 0 and 1

Our first major change comes right out of the bat with the deletion of the Sprint Unlimited race at this time. Instead, move the Duels to the evening and run them under the lights on Saturday and Sunday night the week prior to the 500. This enables NASCAR to maintain its pre-season exhibition on network TV while at the same time freeing up a spot on the schedule. The track shouldn't be too upset as holding the Duels on separate nights enables them to maintain multiple ticket sales.


Week 2 – NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway

Current Week – 7


Week 3 – Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway

Current Week – 2


Week 4 – Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Current Week – 5


Week 5 – Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway (Fontana)

Current Week – 5

This four race stretch concludes NASCAR's launching pad for the season and takes advantage of the warmer climates available in the southwest. The grouping of Phoenix-Las Vegas-Fontana also enables teams to potentially leave some of their equipment out west and save on the costs normally associated with transportation to west coast events. Both Texas and Las Vegas have proven the ability to draw large crowds and often have on-track action better than most intermediate tracks. Weather may be a slightly larger concern (witness the Super Bowl held in Dallas a few years back) but it's a better bet here than its been at early season races scheduled for Bristol and Martinsville.



Week 6 – Sprint Future Stars event at Bristol Motor Speedway

Current Week – N/A

The Sprint Future Stars event would be a chance for younger drivers to take center stage. The concept would be to use a series of heat races to qualify drivers for a 50 lap feature race to end the evening with some outlandish cash prize on the line. Anyone who hasn't run a full time season at the Sprint Cup level would be eligible- ensuring that the Sprint Cup drivers get the weekend off and the full spotlight would shine on the future stars themselves. Bristol is one option but really any number of tracks could host this event.

Erik Jones and Chase Elliott are two bright future stars under 19 years of age. Why not an event that puts drivers like this center stage?
Erik Jones and Chase Elliott are two bright future stars under 19 years of age. Why not an event that puts drivers like this center stage? | Source

Segment Two: In with the new

 
 
 
7.
Rockingham 500
Rockingham Speedway
8.
Aaron's 499
Talladega Superspeedway
9.
STP Gas Booster 500
Martinsville Speedway
10.
STP 400
Kansas Speedway
11.
Canadian Tire 500
Canadian Tire Motorsports Park
12.
Bojangles Southern 500
Darlington Raceway
13.
Party in the Poconos 400
Pocono Raceway
14.
Coca-Cola 600
Charlotte Motor Speedway
15.
Nashville 400
Nashville Superspeedway
16.
Sprint Unlimited Charity Race
Eldora Speedway
NASCAR returned to The Rock for truck races. Why not a Sprint Cup event as well?
NASCAR returned to The Rock for truck races. Why not a Sprint Cup event as well? | Source
The Canadian Tire Motorsports Park brings good racing and a new fan base into the equation
The Canadian Tire Motorsports Park brings good racing and a new fan base into the equation | Source

Week 7 – Rockingham 400 at Rockingham Motor Speedway

Current Week – N/A

Despite the loss of the K&N East race scheduled for this fall (due in large part to sanctioning fees the track was unable to pay), Rockingham deserves to be back on the Sprint Cup schedule. The community has supported Andy Hillenburg's efforts to bring high-level racing back to the track and by adding the track back to the schedule NASCAR would right a wrong done a decade ago- not to mention re-connecting with the sport's roots. Finally, the track's configuration has the potential to bring out the best in the Gen 6 car and minimize the aerodynamic issues that play such a huge part on the intermediate tracks.


Week 8 – Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway

Current Week – 10


Week 9 – STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway

Current Week – 6


Week 10 – STP 400 at Kansas Speedway

Current Week – 8

These three races all stay roughly where they are now. They also enable NASCAR to provide a variety of different tracks over a short period of time to appeal to different fans. While Kansas getting two dates doesn't make a lot of financial sense, the commitment NASCAR made to the state legislature a few years ago makes it difficult to pull the date now.


Week 11 – Canadian Tire 500 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park

Current Week – N/A

The second new track of the season comes in week 11 at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. CTMP gets the nod over Circuit Gilles Villeneuve given the inability for NASCAR to reach an agreement with that track to continue events this past season. In either case, the addition of a road course north of the border on the Sprint Cup level is overdue. It's a reward to NASCAR's Canadian Tire series fans and gives those fans a chance to see the series at its highest level. For American NASCAR fans, it's a road course that has created fantastic finishes with stock cars and promises more of the same in the Cup cars.


Week 12 – Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway

Current Week – 11

Darlington will lose its Mother's Day weekend date next season; we restore that date here. The track took a weekend that traditionally had no major NASCAR events and turned it into a destination race. They've built a new tradition over the last decade and deserve a chance to continue it.


Week 13 – Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway

Current Week – 14

Pocono Raceway is one of four tracks to lose a date under this configuration and their lone event will come roughly around the time as their first race traditionally. The “tricky triangle” has done better since its repave but the track still does not deserve two dates. Track ownership is also a factor; taking dates from either ISC or SMI is no small feat and the Mattioli family doesn't have the pull to keep two races in the future.


Week 14 – Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Current Week – 12

Memorial day weekend just wouldn't be the same without NASCAR's longest race at Charlotte. While there's a temptation to move this race earlier in the year, NASCAR has done far too much to distance itself from tradition already and there's not a good enough reason to break with tradition here.


Week 15 – Nashville 400 at Nashville Superspeedway

Current Week – N/A

The 1.33 mile speedway hasn't hosted a NASCAR race since 2011 when Dover Motorsports pulled the plug- in large part because NASCAR refused to consider putting a Sprint Cup event here. The track is fairly new opening in 2001, so the facilities should be viable. The track is a good compromise between a short-track and an intermediate one and the racing there wasn't bad. Moreover, with Dover losing its second date (more on that later), offering a date for Nashville provides the ownership group with something in return to prevent the possibility of legal action.

The Nashville Superspeedway never got the chance to host a Sprint Cup event.
The Nashville Superspeedway never got the chance to host a Sprint Cup event. | Source

Segment Three: Race to the Chase

 
 
 
17.
Irwin Tools Night Race
Bristol Motor Speedway
18.
Pure Michigan 400
Michigan International Speedway
19.
Toyota Owners 400
Richmond International Speedway
20.
Coke Zero 400
Daytona International Speedway
21.
GEICO 400
Chicagoland Speedway
22.
Cheez-It 355 at the Glen
Watkins Glen International
23.
Ford EcoBoost 400
Homestead-Miami Speedway
24.
Quaker State 400
Kentucky Speedway
25.
Sylvania 300
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
26.
Advocare 500
Atlanta Motor Speedway
27.
Hollywood Casino 400
Kansas Speedway
28.
Crown Royal 400
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Kulwicki Grandstand at the Bristol Motor Speedway
The Kulwicki Grandstand at the Bristol Motor Speedway | Source

Week 16 – Sprint Unlimited at Eldora Speedway

Current Week – 0

Under this schedule, the Sprint Unlimited moves from being a NASCAR stock car preseason event at Daytona to a modified event to replace the defunct “Prelude to the Dream” at Eldora. NASCAR cannot realistically run Sprint Cup cars on the dirt at Eldora but the success of this year's Truck series event at the track shows the viability of NASCAR at the track. The event could raise millions of dollars for charity and provide a bonanza of great PR for the series. For drivers who fail to qualify for the event, it's a good mid-season break before the Race to the Chase really gets going.


Week 17 – Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway

Current Week – 24

This year's Bristol Night Race suffered in large part by being scheduled so close to Richmond. Drivers simply could not afford to engage in the kind of beating and banging for fear of wrecking their chances to qualify for the Chase. An earlier date gives more time to recover from a misstep and a greater likelihood of the “old Bristol” beloved by so many fans.


Week 18 – Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway

Current Week – 23

Michigan is the third track to lose a date, keeping only the early summer event. The races simply are not exciting enough, coming down to fuel mileage more often than not. The area also does not have the same level of financial viability that it once did and it shows in the dwindling attendance figures. Michigan once drew nearly 150,000 fans twice a year but now is lucky to get half that number. Perhaps cutting down to one event will revive attendance here as its done for Michigan's sister track in California.


Week 19 – Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway

Current Week – 9


Week 20 – Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway

Current Week – 18


Week 21 – Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway

Current Week – 27


Week 22 – Cheez It 355 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International

Current Week – 22

This stretch of races will probably be among the most logistically challenging all year long for the teams but each date makes sense for the individual event. Richmond's first date is too early in the season right now and the track suffers from weather issues all too often. Daytona's second date on Independence weekend is another NASCAR tradition that deserves protecting. And like Richmond, weather dictates that the Glen hold its race during the summer months.


Week 23 – Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Current Week – 36


Week 24 – Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway

Current Week – 24


Week 25 – Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Current Week – 28


Week 26 – AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Current Week – 25


Week 27 – Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway

Current Week – 30

Three tracks during this stretch lose their Chase dates as a part of the schedule change. Homestead, which has hosted the season finale for the last decade, needs to move. The track has done nothing besides be weather-friendly to deserve the honor and the races are not as exciting as a finale deserves. After last weekend's tire debacle at Kansas, that track needs to move out of the Chase until its surface wears in. New Hampshire is the fourth and final track to lose a date and it gets its remaining Sprint Cup race here. While NASCAR needs to keep its lone outpost in New England, its racing hasn't earned two dates nor has it earned a spot in the Chase.


Week 28 – Crown Royal 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Current Week – 20

Instead of ending the regular season at Richmond, the Race to the Chase will conclude at the famed Brickyard at Indianapolis. Since NASCAR has no intention of taking the race off the schedule, they might reinvigorate area fans by having nearly everything be on the line. The sheer weight of history might also discourage the kinds of things we saw at Richmond this past year; it's doubtful any driver worth his firesuit could consider tanking at the yard of bricks.

Since NASCAR isn't going to leave Indy behind, why not have it matter more and end NASCAR's regular season?
Since NASCAR isn't going to leave Indy behind, why not have it matter more and end NASCAR's regular season? | Source

Segment Four: All Star Chase to the Sprint Cup

 
 
 
29.
Sprint All Star Race
Charlotte Motor Speedway
30.
Bank of America 500
Charlotte Motor Speedway
31.
FedEx 400
Dover International Speedway
32.
Food City 500
Bristol Motor Speedway
33.
AAA Texas 500
Texas Motor Speedway
34.
Federated Auto Parts 400
Richmond International Raceway
35.
Toyota/Save Mart 350
Sonoma Raceway
36.
Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500
Martinsville Speedway
37.
Camping World RV Sales 500
Talladega Superspeedway
38.
AdvoCare 500
Phoenix International Raceway
39.
Las Vegas 500
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Richmond has a deep history of NASCAR racing and deserves to be in the Chase
Richmond has a deep history of NASCAR racing and deserves to be in the Chase | Source

Week 29 – Sprint All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Current Week – 13


Week 30, Chase Race 1 – Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Current Week – 31

Under this schedule, the series All Star Race moves from mid May to provide a buffer between NASCAR's regular season and its Chase for the Sprint Cup. The teams will be able to spend two straight weeks at home, providing them with the opportunity to fully game plan for the Chase. It also allows NASCAR a fighting chance to remain relevant in the American sports landscape with the onset of NFL football- they would have two straight weeks to hype the beginning of the Chase itself.


Week 31 – FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway

Current Week – 13


Week 32 – Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway

Current Week – 4


Week 33 – AAA Texas 500, Texas Motor Speedway

Current Week – 34


Week 34 – Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway

Current Week – 26

For those who complain the Chase is set up to give Jimmie Johnson (or other teams who master the intermediate tracks) an edge, this schedule is the antidote. Yes, Johnson is nearly unbeatable at Dover (which has its lone remaining date stay in the Chase). But three of the first four races will come at tracks one mile in length or shorter. Bristol's other race, which formerly took place in the spring, moves into the Chase where it belongs. Think tempers flare right now at Bristol? Imagine if the title itself was one the line. Richmond also sees its second date move into the Chase under the plan.


Week 35 – Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway

Current Week – 16


Week 36 – Goody's Headache Powder 500 at Martinsville Speedway

Current Week – 33


Week 37 – Camping World RV Sales 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

Current Week – 32

Since its inception, the Chase's biggest wild card has always been the race at Talladega. With cars running three wide and ten deep lap after lap, the chances of chaos are high and Chase contenders can see their title hopes end in an instant. Yet much the same can be said for both Sonoma and Martinsville as well. Both tracks see plenty of door to door action and wrecked race cars. Putting these three together would create a murderer's row of races with a realistic chance to make up points on the leader. The hope of doing so would keep fans engaged longer, knowing that even if their driver is 50 points out they still have a shot at the title.


Week 38 – AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway

Current Week – 35


Week 39 – Las Vegas 500 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Current Week – N/A

The series ends at the only track to gain a date under this schedule plan, Las Vegas. The track itself is nothing special, a 1.5 mile intermediate layout with slightly above-average racing for its type. But with NASCAR moving its post-season award events to Las Vegas, it makes perfect sense to end the season there as well. As things sit today, the top teams end their season in Miami at a facility that seats 57,000 (plus infield), then pack everything up for the cross-country drive to Vegas. With the change, NASCAR can create a week-long destination event to draw in fans from all over the country. No city entertains quite like Las Vegas and they would make the most of having both the finale and the awards all in one place.

Keselowski's title celebration was good, but imagine how much better it would have been in Vegas?
Keselowski's title celebration was good, but imagine how much better it would have been in Vegas? | Source

So there you have it. 36 regular season races held over 40 weeks. The schedule has no true “off” weekends thanks to spreading out the exhibition events throughout the season. Four tracks (Pocono, Michigan, New Hampshire, Dover) lose one of their two current events while three tracks (Rockingham, CTMP, Nashville) get on the schedule, two for the first time ever. What do you think? Sound off in the comment fields below.


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Is the schedule listed here an improvement on the current schedule?

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      Matt33_FL 3 years ago

      The only thing I really agree with is having the season end in Vegas. As much as I'd like to see Cup cars return to Rockingham, it is just not realistic.

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      Tom 3 years ago

      You, my friend, are a genius. This solves basically every gripe I've had with the current schedule. Kudos! Hope someone at NASCAR is listening.

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      GhostRider 12 months ago

      What about Gateway?

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