The 2024 NASCAR schedule was released for each of its top three series (Cup, Xfinity and Craftsman Truck), featuring a number of changes that have people in and around the industry talking.
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This is the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series schedule! pic.twitter.com/W7qKFF0HYc
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The NASCAR Cup Series 2024 schedule is jam-packed with racing in 10 of the 12 months of the year, starting with the third Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Feb. 4 and ending with the championship race in Phoenix on Nov. 10.
As for all that’s in-between (no pun intended), I’ve picked out a baker’s dozen races that will be worth keeping an eye on when the calendar turns.
Six NASCAR Cup Series Races To Watch on the 2024 Schedule
March 17: Bristol’s Spring Race Returns to the Concrete
Over the last handful of seasons, Bristol Motor Speedway hosted the Cup Series’ first races on dirt in decades, generally on or around Easter Sunday. In 2024, just about the only thing that will stay the same is the race taking place on a holiday – albeit bumped up a few weeks to St. Patrick’s Day.
The “Bristol Dirt Race” has been shelved for 2024, meaning that “The Last Great Colosseum” will have both of its race weekends on the concrete surface (its fall race is scheduled for Sept. 21, once again, the cutoff race for the Cup Series Playoffs’ Round of 16). The dirt race had mixed feelings from both the industry and its fans, and poor weather marred the race weekends as well.
Though poor late-winter/early-spring weather is still a concern so early in the season, it’s all but certain that the racing product will be better for this change; Bristol has been one of the few short tracks to feature entertaining racing with the Next Gen Cup Series car.
March 31: Richmond Returns to (Easter) Night
The fall of Richmond Raceway in Virginia has been a shame to watch, as it’s gone from one of the Cup Series’ best and most entertaining short tracks to a complete snoozefest, which has seen it lose its playoff date as well as its traditional night races – until now.
Richmond keeps two dates on the 2024 NASCAR schedule. Its second comes following a two-week “Olympic break,” which sees none of NASCAR’s top three series race at all between the Cup Series’ return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval (a race which just missed my list) July 21 until the Trucks-Cup Richmond weekend Aug. 10 and 11.
This move feels like an attempt to recapture some of the magic of the facility once known as “The Action Track” and reminisce on the exciting times at Richmond after dark, like when it was the traditional final race before what was then known as the Chase for the Cup.
May 19: North Wilkesboro Hosts All-Star Again After Repave
The Cup Series All-Star Race returns to North Wilkesboro Speedway next season, but this time with a brand new surface for the first time since 1981. The track was planned to be torn up and repaved after the fall of 2022, but NASCAR wanted to try its hand on the old surface before that happened. The tradition was nice, but the racing was not all that entertaining, as Kyle Larson dominated both the Truck Series race and the All-Star Race on a surface that was hard to pass in a Cup Series short-track package that did not help things whatsoever.
The sport and its fanbase have put a lot of time, money and fandom into restoring this track and bringing it back to life. The repave and support of NASCAR’s big-money midseason non-points race shows a continuation of that commitment that ideally puts a better product on track next year.
June 16: Cup Series Makes Its Iowa Debut
An interesting wrinkle in the 2024 NASCAR schedule was the reintegration of Iowa Speedway into all three series schedules a year after it was not featured on any of their schedules. It is rumored to potentially be a one-and-done as NASCAR continues to search for an international date (likely to be Montreal, Canada’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve). Nevertheless, the fans in the heartland who have gotten used to both IndyCar and the lower NASCAR series’ stopping by often will enjoy stock car’s best coming to town.
Some drivers have already expressed doubt over how the race will go on the 7/8-mile oval with how short-track racing has gone with the Next Gen car. Still, anytime the Cup Series visits a track for the first time, it is certainly worth paying attention to.
July 7: The Return to the Streets of Chicago
Segueing from a first visit to what is hopefully a first visit without rain affecting the weekend, both Cup and Xfinity return to the Chicago street course in 2024. The Xfinity race Saturday was nearly a complete washout and didn’t even make it to halfway before being called due to weather. Meanwhile, the Cup Series raced in rainy and slick conditions that played to the advantage of race winner Shane Van Gisbergen, one of the only drivers in the field who had previously raced on a street course.
Not only did the weather affect on-track conditions, but it also ruined multiple scheduled events for the fans around the racetrack area, such as concerts, and, of course, made for more miserable conditions watching the races. Everyone has their fingers crossed that Mother Nature cooperates this time around in what should be another exciting date on the 2024 NASCAR schedule.
Sept. 15: The Glen Moves Into the Playoffs
The 2024 NASCAR schedule features multiple changes to the Cup Series Playoffs, such as Darlington moving to the regular-season finale and Atlanta taking its place as the playoff opener. But the second race of the Round of 16 heads to the Finger Lakes as Watkins Glen International adds a second road course to the playoffs for the first time.
The Glen is one of the duo of “traditional” road courses that the Cup Series has gone to yearly for as long as we can remember (the other traditional road course, Sonoma, is June 9). So, there are no potentially gimmick-like elements nor new track elements for drivers to learn. Not to mention, the potential of seeing stock cars roar by as fall foliage falls near the front straight could be a picturesque way for a playoff contender to punch their pass to the next round come next year.
Thanks for reading our highlights of the 2024 NASCAR schedule, and we hope to see you at the track next year, as In-Between Media (IBT) plans to continue its occasional at-track coverage next season!
And for more NASCAR content, you can find me on Twitter @EHicks39.
*Photo Credit: Randy Sartin – USA TODAY Sports*