NASCAR officials and tracks will unveil the Cup Series schedule for 2021 all day Wednesday in a series of announcements, culminating in a full release later in the afternoon. The 36-race slate features new venues and new dates among some of the traditional returning races for NASCAR’s top division.
Tracks that will host Cup Series races next season will be revealing their dates and, in some cases, their debuts with their own degree of fanfare throughout the day. We’ll post the updates, details and social-media sizzle here as the momentum builds toward a new-look 2021 schedule:
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In the spirit of adding new road courses, one of the nation’s newest joins the Cup Series schedule in 2021 — Circuit of The Americas. The gleaming 3.426-mile layout in Austin, Texas, has hosted Formula 1, IndyCar and IMSA sports car events since opening in 2012.
COTA will take a May 23 spot on the NASCAR Cup Series calendar, placing it as the tour’s first road-course race of the season.
“Our company is proud to have a 60-year history of fabulous firsts in motorsports entertainment, and we are honored to bring America‘s premier racing series to one of the world‘s most renowned entertainment venues and cities for the very first time,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith. “I‘d like to thank COTA CEO Bobby Epstein as well as NASCAR‘s executive leadership for supporting us in an endeavor to do something that we believe will be spectacular for race fans, not only in Texas but around the world. We work and challenge ourselves every day at Speedway Motorsports to create amazing experiences that will last a lifetime, and we know NASCAR at COTA will deliver in 2021.”
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The NASCAR Cup Series’ 28th visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have a new look, shifting from the 2.5-mile oval to the road-course circuit for an Aug. 15 stop on the schedule.
The Xfinity Series debuted earlier this season on a 2.439-mile layout that produced a home-state winner in Chase Briscoe after a captivating dash to the finish. The planned Cup Series road race is the latest bold move for track owner Roger Penske, whose deal to purchase the historic speedway was announced last November.
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The Indianapolis race will move six weeks later on the 2021 schedule after playing host to NASCAR’s top series during Independence Day weekend earlier this year. The revamped Brickyard weekend also will feature a brand-new NTT IndyCar Series race Saturday, Aug. 14 on the road course, setting the stage for another history-making NASCAR-IndyCar weekend after this year‘s successful collaboration at IMS.
“Our first NASCAR-IndyCar weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants involved,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “The Xfinity Series‘ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.
“We can‘t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and IndyCar together during this exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
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NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway will return with two annual dates on the Cup Series schedule as Darlington Raceway announced that a May 9 event will join its Sept. 5 Labor Day Weekend classic on the 2021 slate. The May 9 date is Mother’s Day 2021.
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Darlington played host to three Cup Series races this season as NASCAR adjusted to the COVID-19 outbreak with an initial focus on tracks within driving distance to the Charlotte-area hub. Before that, the South Carolina venue had been host to one annual event — the crown-jewel Southern 500 — from 2005-2019. It was home to two Cup Series races each year from 1960-2004 and has been a staple on the NASCAR schedule since opening for business in 1950.
“A NASCAR tradition returns as Darlington Raceway will host two NASCAR Cup Series race weekends as part of the 2021 NASCAR schedule,” said Darlington President Kerry Tharp. “We are grateful for NASCAR‘s trust in the track ‘Too Tough To Tame’ to continue to deliver one of the most competitive race experiences and loyal fan bases in the sport. Thanks to Governor Henry McMaster and the state of South Carolina for their continued support as NASCAR was the first to bring live team sports back at Darlington in 2020. We look forward to hearing the roar of the engines twice as part of our traditional Mother‘s Day and Labor Day weekends.”
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Atlanta Motor Speedway’s schedule will grow next season with a pair of Cup Series dates — March 21 and July 11. The 1.54-mile Georgia track last hosted two annual races in 2010.
The track’s second event will mark the first time since 1974 that the Cup Series has raced at Atlanta in July.
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Atlanta’s race weekend this season was the first postponed by the COVID-19 outbreak. Instead of running its 500-miler on March 15, the Cup Series shifted the Atlanta event to June 7.
“We’re beyond excited to deliver what our fans have been yearning for: A second weekend of NASCAR action in Atlanta once again,” said AMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Brandon Hutchison. “Folds of Honor and QuikTrip continue to be phenomenal partners for our spring weekend of racing and we’re thrilled to have Quaker State and Walmart on board this summer as we put together two weekends of entertainment and excitement for race fans.”