C-LA-sh, Gateway debut headline NASCAR Cup schedule changes for 2022

While not a shift as seismic as the 2021 calendar, the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series schedule will feature some major changes.  Thirty-six points races continue to be the norm as it has been since 2001.

Announced on Tuesday was the Busch Clash‘s relocation from its only home at Daytona International Speedway to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. A temporary quarter-mile short track will be constructed on the playing surface of the legendary football stadium. As the exhibition race is now located on the opposite side of the country, it is moved back a week to give teams some breathing space before Speedweeks (or just a single Speedweek now) at Daytona to properly kick off the season.

After the Daytona 500 on 20 February, Auto Club Speedway, which lost its 2020 and 2021 dates to COVID-19, returns to the schedule as the second race of the year to kick off the three-race West Coast Swing. The Daytona Road Course, which was first used as a temporary date in 2020 to make up for the lost Watkins Glen International race before doing it again for Auto Club in 2021, is thus not on the 2022 schedule. Following Atlanta Motor Speedway on 20 March, Circuit of the Americas rejoins the calendar after a rainy inaugural race last May.

April is almost exclusively short tracks with Talladega Superspeedway as the lone exception. Perhaps the biggest eye grabber this month is the return of Bristol Motor Speedway‘s dirt layout, though it will be as a night race on Easter Sunday.

The All-Star Race remains at Texas Motor Speedway for 2022, but has been bumped back into its traditional May slot before the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend.

The only new points race is the début of World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on 5 June. Located in Madison, Illinois, the 1.25-mile Gateway has hosted the Camping World Truck Series since 2003 and used to welcome the Xfinity Series from 1997 to 2010.

“I set some ambitious goals when I took over the race track and to see them come to fruition is a dream come true,” track owner Curtis Francois said. “Thanks to the hard work of our team, corporate partners such as (World Wide Technology head) Dave Steward and World Wide Technology, and sponsors like Bommarito Automotive Group, I am proud to welcome the NASCAR Cup Series to the St. Louis region. I can’t wait to celebrate this incredible victory with our fans.”

The move also brings the Cup Series back to Illinois, which previously had Chicagoland Speedway until it was axed in 2020. Located right across from St. Louis, Missouri, it is also the closest that the premier series raced to the state.

“Earning a NASCAR Cup race solidifies St. Louis’ position as one on the nation’s premier markets for professional sports, fan experiences and tourism,” commented Greater St. Louis, Inc. chair Andrew C. Taylor. “Curtis Francois and the team at the raceway have delivered a significant win for the Metro East and the entire St. Louis region.”

Consequently, Gateway’s arrival kills the Pocono Raceway doubleheader which had been used since 2020 as the Tricky Triangle now has just one date on 24 July. Pocono last had a single race in 1981.

“Although we are disappointed NASCAR has chosen to eliminate one of the two NASCAR Cup Series races at Pocono Raceway, we will continue to persevere and provide the best family-friendly experience and value to our guests,” read a track statement. “Bringing the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series Doubleheader with fans to life was a privilege. The Doubleheader concept was well-received by our race fans, partners, and guests. It yielded a sold-out infield, sold-out suite level and a strong attendance.

“This change does not affect our resolve, our legacy and how we will approach promoting NASCAR races and hosting our guests.  We have thrilled millions of spectators and thousands of the world’s greatest race car drivers over the past 47 years and, alongside NASCAR, we will host millions more.”

After having three off-weeks in 2021 (one for Easter and two for the Summer Olympics), there will be only one for 2022 between Sonoma Raceway (12 June) and Nashville Superspeedway (26 June). This point will mark Fox Sports passing the broadcasting baton to NBC for the rest of the year.

Richmond Raceway, the site of the most recent Cup race, is moved out of the playoffs into a 14 August slot. Formerly the last race of the regular season, Richmond was a playoff date since 2018.

As Richmond loses its playoff status, Homestead-Miami Speedway regains it. The longtime home of the season finale, Homestead was switched to a spring date in 2020 as NASCAR opted to make Phoenix Raceway the new Championship Round host. Homestead will be the eighth playoff race, placing it in the middle of the Round of 8. Kansas Speedway, previously the holder of that slot, will instead be the second race of the Round of 16.

Daytona will be the regular season-ending race and Darlington Raceway serves as the postseason kickoff, both for the third straight year. Texas, currently the Round of 8’s first race, moves to the Round of 12 as Las Vegas Motor Speedway takes its original place.

Phoenix will once again be the Championship Race.

“As we demonstrated last year, we are committed to creating the most dynamic schedule for our fans, long term,” NASCAR senior vice president of strategy and innovation Ben Kennedy stated. “With the addition of new and unique venues like the Coliseum and World Wide Technology Raceway, each in markets with passionate NASCAR fans, we’re continuing to build on bold changes to deliver the best racing in the world.

“This latest iteration of the schedule should lend itself to another season filled with drama and great racing on the track, starting with the Daytona 500 and culminating with NASCAR Championship Weekend at Phoenix Raceway.”

Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/NASCAR via Getty Images

Full schedule

# Track Date
Ex. Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Clash) 6 February
Ex. Daytona International Speedway (Duels) 17 February
1 Daytona International Speedway 20 February
2 Auto Club Speedway 27 February
3 Las Vegas Motor Speedway 6 March
4 Phoenix Raceway 13 March
5 Atlanta Motor Speedway 20 March
6 Circuit of the Americas 27 March
7 Richmond Raceway 3 April
8 Martinsville Speedway 9 April
9 Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt 17 April
10 Talladega Superspeedway 24 April
11 Dover International Speedway 1 May
12 Darlington Raceway 8 May
13 Kansas Speedway 15 May
Ex. Texas Motor Speedway (All-Star Race) 22 May
14 Charlotte Motor Speedway 29 May
15 World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway 5 June
16 Sonoma Raceway 12 June
17 Nashville Superspeedway 26 June
18 Road America 3 July
19 Atlanta Motor Speedway 10 July
20 New Hampshire Motor Speedway 17 July
21 Pocono Raceway 24 July
22 Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course 31 July
23 Michigan International Speedway 7 August
24 Richmond Raceway 14 August
25 Watkins Glen International 21 August
26 Daytona International Speedway 27 August
27 Darlington Raceway 4 September
28 Kansas Speedway 11 September
29 Bristol Motor Speedway 17 September
30 Texas Motor Speedway 25 September
31 Talladega Superspeedway 2 October
32 Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval 9 October
33 Las Vegas Motor Speedway 16 October
34 Homestead-Miami Speedway 23 October
35 Martinsville Speedway 30 October
36 Phoenix Raceway 6 November

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