My first thoughts when seeing this is that obviously the Clash being moved to Los Angeles in a football stadium is interesting. Since the events inception in 1979, this has always been at Daytona. In turn, the days of Speedweek”s” is down to Speed “days.” You have the Duels on Thursday, Truck race Friday, Xfinity Series race on Saturday and the Daytona 500 on Sunday. That’s just four days of racing.
My second instinct is the Daytona road course as well as Homestead are out of February with the west coast swing being moved back up again. Fontana will be Feb. 20, Las Vegas on March 6 and Phoenix on March 20. Then, you get COTA essentially in the old Texas slot in the spring on March 27 with a stop in Atlanta the week prior.
The season though has six road courses (COTA, Sonoma, Road America, Indianapolis, Watkins Glen and Charlotte ROVAL), four superspeedway’s (Daytona/Talladega x2 each) a dirt race and nine tracks 1-mile in length and shorter. They’ll also have four races on 1.33-mile tracks or near there with two at Darlington, Nashville and Gateway on the docket.
Another takeaway is we’re racing on Easter for the first time since 1989 and doing so at Bristol on the dirt. It will be a night race which could be vastly better on track conditions than running on a dirt track during the day. A primetime Easter race could be big.
While taking my next scan through the print, I notice a five race span with four short tracks. Richmond (April 3), Martinsville (April 9), Bristol Dirt (April 17) and Dover (May 1) make up that trend with Talladega (April 24) between.
From there you get the All-Star race moving back to May but not back in Charlotte. Texas will get two races in 2022 but like 2021, one is the annual All-Star event and this year’s moving from June to May 22. It’s exactly a week before the Coca-Cola 600.
Following the ‘600 is another first time event at World Wide Technology Raceway (June 5). This next span can change some things with an inaugural race (Gateway), a second year race in Nashville (June 26) followed by another second year race at Road America (July 3). This is the first time since Daytona that the Fourth of July weekend will have a return trip since we went from Daytona to Indy between 2019 and 2020 and Indy to Road America from 2020 to 2021. This year, it stays put at Elkhart Lake. It also tells me with Daytona serving as the regular season finale (Aug. 27) again, that with how Road America went this past year and how strong Daytona’s been in late August, this may be the future of both events on these dates.
Pocono is down to one race weekend and is back in July (July 24) while the Indy road course moves up from August now to July 31. This is the fourth straight year the Brickyard weekend has been moved in going from September in 2019, July 5 in 2020, Aug. 15 in 2021 and now July 31. 2017’s race was held in July too, but not this weekend, so this is the fourth time in five years this race has been moved and the second year it’s on the road course.
August completely changes with Michigan in early August, Richmond out of the playoffs to Aug. 14 as a day race, Watkins Glen back a couple of weeks followed by Daytona to wrap things up. In the case of Richmond, this is NASCAR admitting that the night race isn’t working there so now both races will be run in the heat of the day with hot and more slick conditions.
The playoffs change a lot too. Darlington kicks it off, but half of the postseason is altered. You get a Round 1 of Darlington-Kansas-Bristol. This year was Darlington-Richmond-Bristol. Round 2 now will be Texas-Talladega-Charlotte ROVAL. That changes in Texas moving from the Round of 8 where it’s always lived to the second round.
The Round of 8 will now be Las Vegas (Oct. 16), Homestead (Oct. 23) and Martinsville (Oct. 30). A major change there with Vegas going from an opening round race, to the second round to now the third round. Homestead is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2019 but this time it won’t serve as the season finale. Phoenix (Nov. 6) will once again serve as the championship race again.
While the playoffs change a lot, the cut races remain the same – Bristol (Round 1), ROVAL (Round 2), Martinsville (Round 3), Phoenix (Championship).
With all the recent changes in the last couple of years, I feel like the 2022 schedule is pretty much going to be the next staple of the future. Daytona will likely always stay in its President’s Day weekend date. The west coast swing seems best to go to after. Atlanta and Darlington having two dates seems to be right. The others are finding a niche on where they belong.
I don’t see many other major changes from this point forward but again, I didn’t fully see all these drastic changes either. The next drastic steps that could be taken would be visiting larger metropolitan areas like they’re doing for the Clash in Los Angeles. Do they tryout football stadiums? Do they add a street course race? Nevertheless, the next path is getting clearer and that’s getting in front of more fans in downtown spots.
Also, my final takeaway is that there’s no rest for the weary. We’ll see 17 straight weeks of action to start the year including the All-Star race on May 22. The first and only break comes between Sonoma (June 12) and Nashville (June 26). Once we get to Nashville in late June, there’s no more breaks. We’ll go 20 consecutive weeks to the finish. You can rest assured that this is certainly going to take a toll on the drivers, teams and crews for this next season. 38 weekends between the Daytona 500 and Phoenix and 37 of them will feature racing.