In recent years NASCAR talked about shaking up the 2021 schedule which would be the first year after the 5-year agreement NASCAR previously locked tracks into. The 2021 schedule features a number of changes but not the overhauling changes many fans were hoping to see.
Changes For 2021
For 2021 the Cup Series will be doing more road course racing, double the amount to be exact. The 2021 schedule will feature 6 road course races with the addition of COTA, Road America, and the Indianapolis road course.
The spring Bristol race will be a “dirt” race, something no one asked for. Drivers spoke out against it, fans spoke out against it, and yet, the brain trust in Charlotte steamrolled ahead with it like Donald Trump in a debate.
Nashville Superspeedway will be added to the schedule taking one of Dover’s two dates.
Kentucky and Chicagoland are dead, they cease to exist on the schedule anymore.
Atlanta and Darlington both gain second dates.
Michigan and Texas both lose one of their two races as well. Yet Pocono will remain a doubleheader.
Take a look at the 2021 schedule, we’ll point out a few things underneath the schedule.
2021 NASCAR Cup Series Schedule
Feb. 14 | Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway
Feb. 21 | Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway
Feb. 28 | Auto Club (Calif.) Speedway
March 7 | Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway
March 14 | Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway
March 21 | Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway
March 28 | Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (dirt)
April 4 | Easter
April 10 | Martinsville (Va.) Speedway
April 18 | Richmond (Va.) Raceway
April 25 | Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
May 2 | Kansas Speedway
May 9 | Darlington (S.C.) Raceway
May 16 | Dover (Del.) International Speedway
May 23 | Circuit of the Americas (COTA)
May 30 | Charlotte Motor Speedway
June 6 | Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway
June 13 | All-Star Race (Texas Motor Speedway)
June 20 | Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway
June 26-27 | Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (doubleheader)
July 4 | Road America
July 11 | Atlanta Motor Speedway
July 18 | New Hampshire Motor Speedway
July 25 | Off Weekend (Olympics)
August 1 | Off Weekend (Olympics)
August 8 | Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International
August 15 | Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
August 22 | Michigan International Speedway
August 28 | Daytona International Speedway
Sept. 5 | Darlington Raceway
Sept. 11 | Richmond Raceway
Sept. 18 | Bristol Motor Speedway
Sept. 26 | Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Oct. 3 | Talladega Superspeedway
Oct. 10 | Charlotte Roval
Oct. 17 | Texas Motor Speedway
Oct. 24 | Kansas Speedway
Oct. 31 | Martinsville Speedway
Nov. 7 | Phoenix Raceway
Is This Underwhelming?
NASCAR promised big changes and “big” is a relative term. It’s clear we have different definitions of big because this schedule is rather underwhelming. It’s nice, but it could be so much better.
The Playoffs stay completely intact from 2020 to 2021, a decision that isn’t shocking but one that should have been mixed up. Kansas could have been swapped for Atlanta. Richmond could have been moved for literally any race other than Pocono or Michigan. Leave the cutoff races in place, Bristol, Roval, and Martinsville are fantastic choices.
Adding three more road courses to the schedule is a fantastic idea. The Indianapolis oval hasn’t been good since 2008 and that’s only because Goodyear went peak, Goodyear. Sure 2017 was fun but that doesn’t happen often. Might as well give the road course a shot since the series refuses to check out Indianapolis Raceway Park.
COTA will be interesting but much like Road America the full-course cautions are going to be excruciatingly painful.
Overall, the expectations were more. Why not add Gateway? What happened to trying out a street course? Fans want short tracks and IRP is just sitting there waiting to be used. The same goes for Memphis. There are a number of things NASCAR could have tried but didn’t. And some of that is wishful thinking for sure, but take some risks.