For the past few weeks, NASCAR fans have been impatiently waiting for the release of the 2024 Cup Series schedule, which in years past has generally been released by mid-September.
The holdup this year was reportedly over negotiations with the city of Montreal for a street course race at Canadian Grand Prix venue Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
But a Cup Series return to Canada began to look increasingly less likely after the schedule release kept being pushed back, and it was rumored that Iowa Speedway would be the replacement if a date in Montreal wasn’t secured.
Then earlier this week, NASCAR announced that the Cup Series would indeed be heading to Iowa in 2024, with Iowa governor Kim Reynolds announcing that Iowa Speedway would host its first ever Cup Series race on June 16, 2024 for a Father’s Day weekend event.
Another holdup has seemed to be the 2024 Olympics, which will be broadcast on NBC. The network also plays home to the second of the NASCAR Cup Series season, so NBC would presumably want NASCAR to take two weeks off while the Olympics are going on to accommodate their coverage of the worldwide games.
Over the past few weeks, more and more pieces of the 2024 schedule have fallen into place, like the announcement that the All-Star Race would return to North Wilkesboro.
But many questions remained due to the simple math of needing to take two weeks off for the Olympics while keeping key races in place.
As NASCAR on Fox reporter Bob Pockrass pointed out, with the date of the season-opening Daytona 500 already being set, and NASCAR taking two weeks off for the Olympics, unless the series decided to host two races on the same week, that would make the annual Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway the 26th points event of the season, potentially replacing the summer race at Daytona as the final race of the regular season.
Expect Iowa to be only new Cup track in 2024. There could be two new playoff sites b/c Texas likely moves to spring & if two weeks off for Olympics & no doubleheader or midweek race, that makes Darlington regular-season finale. https://t.co/UPKVMyV9B8
That leaves the question of where the Daytona race would fall on the schedule: Would NASCAR include another superspeedway in their playoffs? Could they change the format of the playoffs altogether to accommodate the changes to the schedule?
And with other questions up in the air like whether Bristol Motor Speedway would still have two dates now that it’s been all but confirmed the spring dirt race would not be returning, fans were getting more anxious than ever for the 2024 schedule and to start making plans for next year.
Well the wait is finally over.
Today at long last, NASCAR released the Cup Series schedule for 2024, and it features a number of changes from years past.
As it has for the past two years, NASCAR will return to Los Angeles for the Clash at the Coliseum to kick off the season, before heading to Daytona for the season opening Daytona 500. But as expected, the annual summer race at Daytona will no longer be the final event of the regular season, with that title going to Darlington for the Southern 500.
Instead, Daytona will be held the week before the Labor Day race at Darlington, and will be the next to last race before the playoffs, putting even more importance on the Southern 500 at the tricky South Carolina racetrack as it becomes the final opportunity for drivers to earn the opportunity to race for the championship.
The Bristol dirt experiment is officially dead too, with the race’s traditional Easter Sunday date going to Richmond International Raceway while NASCAR returns to the concrete at Bristol for the spring race on March 17. (So they don’t get Easter, but at least they have St. Patrick’s Day).
There will also be a new road course in the playoffs, as Watkins Glen moves from its traditional late August date to September 15. And the playoffs will now begin at Atlanta, one of two superspeedways in the playoffs along with Talladega.
The only other unanswered question that falls into place with the release of the 2024 schedule is whether NASCAR would return to Chicago over the July 4th weekend for their street race, an event that debuted this year amid controversy and questions over whether the city would have the sport back next year.
Well it looks like Chicago was happy enough with the 2023 event that they’re going to honor their contract and give NASCAR another shot, with the series returning to the Windy City on July 7 for the second annual street race.
Overall, there weren’t a ton of surprises on the schedule that hadn’t already been leaked, but with the changes to Daytona’s race date and the lack of new tracks other than Iowa, chances are there are going to be some fans who are disappointed that NASCAR decided to change things up.
Here’s the entire 2024 schedule:
A heart-pounding, high-octane thrill ride is coming your way.