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5 Tracks NASCAR Should Add to the Cup Series Schedule
Five NASCAR tracks have/will host a Cup Series race in 2021 for the first time ever.
Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt and Circuit of the Americas have already hosted races, while Nashville Superspeedway, Road America, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course will host races later in the season.
The move to add five new tracks to the Cup Series schedule is unprecedented. Since adding Kentucky Speedway to the schedule in 2011, NASCAR had only added one new track, the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course in 2018, to the schedule.
Will NASCAR be in the market to add another new track? Let’s take a look at five tracks that NASCAR could add to the Cup Series schedule in the near future.
Chicago Street Course
A race on the streets of Chicago wasn’t really on many people’s minds until NASCAR announced that a Chicago Street Course would be a part of their iRacing schedule.
But when you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense.
NASCAR is no longer in the Chicago area after removing Chicagoland Speedway from the schedule. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the move. Chicagoland Speedway had been producing some of the best racing on 1.5-mile tracks. It seems like the pandemic took a toll on the track, leaving track employees without a job.
When they did the iRacing event at the track, I noticed that the track was very narrow. Most NASCAR road courses have run-off areas just in case you get off track in a corner. I don’t believe this track has that, so you better be careful in the turns. Also, it may be hard to race side-by-side for long periods of time.
A potential race at the Chicago Street Course could replace either Richmond Raceway or Pocono Raceway. Both tracks host two races, so they wouldn’t be wiped out entirely. Still, the racing there has been lackluster the past few seasons. I don’t think fans would be too mad to see one of their dates go.
I think there’s a real possibility we could see the Cup Series on the Chicago Street Course as early as next season.
The NASCAR Cup Series had a dirt race on their schedule for the first time since 1970. The Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Race produced a lot of quality racing, and they’re doing it again in 2022.
Bristol Motor Speedway announces that the Dirt race will return in 2022#NASCAR— Chris Knight (@Knighter01) March 29, 2021
While the feedback was positive, the race still had its issues.
There was a ton of dust and mud that made it extremely difficult to see. NASCAR had no other choice but to switch to single-file restarts halfway through the race.
I couldn’t help but wonder if the issues were because Bristol Motor Speedway had never hosted a NASCAR dirt race. Maybe a track like Eldora Speedway would be better equipped to avoid those issues.
The Camping World Truck Series hosted a race at the track from 2013-2019. The races produced a lot of exciting action and thrilling finishes.
It definitely doesn’t hurt that NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart owns the track. Speaking from a business decision, I’m sure he’d love to have NASCAR’s top series racing at his track.
Speaking of Stewart, his new series, Superstar Racing Experience, will race at Eldora Speedway later this month. If the series is successful and returns in the future, how cool would it be to see both Superstar Racing Experience and the NASCAR Cup Series racing on the same weekend? I bet Stewart would love it.
Now I think the obvious choice is to replace Bristol with Eldora Speedway. I don’t think there’s a need for two dirt races. Having just one unique race makes the event more special.
While Bristol already announced the dirt race would return in 2022, maybe Eldora Speedway makes their Cup Series debut in 2023.
Now I know this would excite a lot of people. Rockingham Speedway hosted Cup Series races from 1965-2004. The track was always a fan favorite, given its prime location in North Carolina, as well as its racing product.
Rockingham Speedway made a comeback under new ownership in 2012 and 2013. The Truck Series raced there in both seasons. Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson split the two races.
Ownership has changed hands a few times since then, but there’s some hope for the future. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper proposed $10 million to upgrade the infrastructure at the track. People within NASCAR have been trying to get Rockingham Speedway renovated for years. The fact that the Governor is now on board is huge.
Also, it’s not like Rockingham Speedway isn’t fit to host a race. The CARS Tour will race at the track in November.
Rockingham’s potential return to the Cup Series could come at the expense of Darlington Raceway. Darlington is just 60 miles south of Rockingham, so local fans wouldn’t be missing out on a potential trip to the track.
Darlington Raceway hosts the Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend. They have a second date, but I almost feel like that takes away from the iconic Southern 500 just a little bit.
Replacing the Spring Darlington race with Rockingham could be best for both tracks.
Lucas Oil Raceway
NASCAR fans might not recognize this track name. You may know it as Indianapolis Raceway Park.
The track hosted the Xfinity Series from 1982-2011 and the Camping World Truck Series from 1995-2011. The 0.686-mile oval is exactly what NASCAR fans have been asking for. More short tracks.
Lucas Oil Speedway is a short six-mile drive from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The track actually replaced Lucas Oil Speedway in the Xfinity Series.
My thinking had always been that no matter how boring the racing was at the Brickyard, you just can’t get rid of the race. It’s one of NASCAR’s crown jewels. But now that they’ve moved it to the road course layout, I’m good with replacing it altogether. I think NASCAR wants to keep the iconic track alive, but the road course race just won’t be the same.
Also, the Cup Series has seven road courses on their schedule this season. If we’re adding another one with the Chicago Street Course, we can definitely go ahead and replace one.
That leads me to my obvious conclusion. It’ll hurt to see such an iconic track go, but we must move away from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The track just isn’t producing good racing.
The good thing is, we stay in the Indianapolis market, and fans get what they want with another short track.
Following the theme of short tracks, the Cup Series would add another by putting the Nashville Fairgrounds on their schedule. The 0.596-mile short hosted Cup Series races from 1958-1984. The Xfinity Series and Truck Series last raced there in 2000.
The ARCA Menards Series raced at Nashville Fairgrounds from 2015-2019.
The track’s potential return to the NASCAR Cup Series has been picking up momentum for years. Track operator Tony Formosa Jr. struck a deal with Speedway Motorsports to make necessary upgrades to Nashville Fairgrounds. The upgrades will prepare the track to host a NASCAR race.
That agreement was at the end of 2018. This year, there’s been a board of commissioners hearing that didn’t exactly go well for Nashville Fairgrounds. Among the complaints from local residents was noise. I’m not sure how you can live near a racetrack and not expect noise, but that’s just my opinion.
I know Nashville Fairgrounds runs just about all their races at night, but I wonder if the Cup Series would do a Sunday afternoon race. The race would still be loud, but I can’t imagine as many people complaining on a Sunday afternoon as they would on a Saturday night.
They’ve already announced that Nashville Fairgrounds won’t be ready to host a NASCAR race in 2022.
James Bergeron of the Board of Fair Commissioners had this to say.
That said, Nashville fans will get their first taste of NASCAR racing in years, with Nashville Superspeedway returning this season.
Now, which race gets bumped for Nashville Fairgrounds? I’m going with one of the Pocono Raceway or Richmond Raceway races. I know I said I’d remove one of them for the Chicago Street Course.
Why not go ahead and move the other here?
After years of no races in Nashville, they could be two very soon.
Will NASCAR Add More Tracks?
Before the 2021 season, the NASCAR Cup Series was reluctant to add new tracks. I think we’ll see that trend continue for a few years.
With that being said, I could see NASCAR adding a new track every year or two.
From this list, I think the Chicago Street Course and Nashville Fairgrounds have the best chance to join the schedule. There have already been talks between NASCAR and both tracks.
Personally, I’d be most excited about Lucas Oil Raceway and Rockingham Speedway. They’d both add a nostalgia factor to NASCAR. Maybe there’s a surprise track that jumps onto the Cup Series schedule in the next five years.
If talking about new NASCAR tracks get you excited, you may also get amped up to bet on the races. Just be sure to stop by our NASCAR betting picks page before you place any bets.