2021 NASCAR Cup schedule faces "a lot of different variables"

The NASCAR Cup Series’ much-anticipated 2021 schedule continues to face delays from a most unusual 2020 season.

2021 NASCAR Cup schedule faces "a lot of different variables"

The 2021 schedule was originally set to be released sometime in April but the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent two-month shutdown of the sport shelved those plans as NASCAR’s focus turned to getting the 2020 season completed.

NASCAR appears to have successfully achieved that goal as its three national series – Cup, Xfinity and Trucks – are all scheduled to complete their respective seasons with championship races the first weekend of November.

The pandemic, however, still remains, although its effects vary from state to state, which creates even more challenges.

New venues?

The 2021 Cup schedule is expected to feature significant changes both in the types of races on the schedule and the tracks on which they will take place.

During a Zoom call with media Tuesday, NASCAR President Steve Phelps could not give a timetable on when the 2021 schedule would be completed and said it may end up being released in “pieces.”

“There are a lot of different variables and factors that need to go into what our 2021 schedule is going to look like,” he said. “Do we want to continue to look at potential new venues? The answer is yes. Do we want to look at potential format changes? Yes. Do we want to consider continuing one-day shows in some form or fashion? Probably.

“That’s something that we have to weigh with all the stakeholders in the industry – the tracks themselves, our broadcast partners and the content they would lose as part of this, the teams and what it looks like to try to help them out. These are difficult times, and so all of those things are things that we are taking into consideration.”

Known changes

Some changes have already been announced.

The 43rd running of the preseason Busch Clash non-points race will be held on the Daytona International Speedway road course for the first time on Tuesday night, Feb. 9, with the traditional Daytona 500 Cup Series season-opener following on Sunday, Feb. 14.

In June, NASCAR and Dover Motorsports Inc. – which owns Dover (Del.) International Speedway – announced it would move one of its current Cup races at Dover to Nashville Superspeedway in 2021, likely to run next June.

The 1.33-mile concrete track was built in 2001 by DMI and hosted NASCAR and IndyCar Series-sanctioned events from 2001 to 2011.

Phelps said NASCAR is moving forward with creation of its 2021 schedule having to incorporate contingency planning assuming the pandemic could still affect race sites and attendance into 2021.

“I am cautiously optimistic that many of the objectives that we would have had in a pre-COVID world we will have during our 2021 season,” Phelps said.

“But, again, there are just a lot of moving parts, and we need to wrestle those to the ground before we’re able to discuss what (the schedule) looks like.”

Some issues have become clearer:

¨ While mid-week races remain “viable” in the future, Phelps said, the prospect of them appearing in the 2021 schedule is “on the lower end of probability.”

¨ After a successful debut as a replacement for Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International this season, Phelps says a permanent spot on the schedule for the Daytona Road Course was possible but would have to be an additional race at Daytona, not replacing its two oval track events.

¨ Phelps said access to pit road and garage areas would continue to be prohibited for fans, certain team members, sponsor guests and media until a proven COVID-19 vaccine, or other similarly effective treatment, was widely available.

shares
comments

Related video

Video: Newman says Reddick 'just ran out of talent' in late wreck

Previous article

Video: Newman says Reddick 'just ran out of talent' in late wreck

Next article

Joey Logano "ready to win again" as NASCAR playoffs begin

Joey Logano "ready to win again" as NASCAR playoffs begin
Load comments
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Prime

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future…

NASCAR Cup
Nov 18, 2020
Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture Prime

Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture

“You can’t hear me? Hey n*****” Those fateful words uttered by Kyle Larson, spoken into his esports headset on April 12, were directed at his sim racing spotter – but instead they quickly became amplified around the world via social media, including his own Twitch stream.

NASCAR Cup
Oct 29, 2020