NASCAR rolls out clearing improvements to 2021 Cup Series schedule

NASCAR is rolling out huge improvements to the 2021 Cup Series schedule, satisfying a public promise to change up its 36-race calendar that runs from mid-February to early November.

New on the 2021 schedule are road-course races at Circuit of The Americas (May 23) and Road America (July 4), a second race at Atlanta Motor Speedway (July 11) and a move from the oval format to the road-course layout at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Aug. 15), sources disclosed to The Athletic’s Jordan Bianchi late Tuesday night. Nashville joins the schedule on June 20. Darlington will currently have two races — Sunday, May 9 and the playoff opener on Sunday, Sept. 5.

Moreover, Bristol Motor Speedway’s half-mile cleared oval will be covered with dirt for the track’s annual spring race on March 28, affirming weeks of speculation. It will be the first Cup race on dirt in the modern period (1972 to present).

The Athletic acquired the most recently distributed schedule, yet sources state there could be a minute ago changes.

Pocono’s Cup doubleheader stays on the schedule in June. The playoff races on the proposed schedule mirror 2020’s record.

Both Chicagoland and Kentucky won’t be important for the 2021 schedule when it is released Wednesday, denoting the first tracks to be eliminated from the Cup Series since 2004, when NASCAR reported Rockingham’s date would not be on the 2005 timetable. Additionally not on the schedule are mid-week races.

NASCAR’s schedule tends to fan protests of an excessive number of races being held on 1.5-mile to 2-mile tracks. The Athletic announced a week ago that NASCAR was required to move the non-points All-Star Race from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Texas Motor Speedway, which loses one of its two point-paying races toward clear a path for the expansion of Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.