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How Can NASCAR Shake Up the 2024 Playoff Schedule?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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While the NASCAR schedule in general is a hot topic of discussion, the Playoff schedule is equally if not more important than the regular season schedule. We asked the fans yesterday what they would do to the Playoff schedule if they could shake it up, but, we have decided to take it a step further. What could NASCAR do to the Playoff schedule?

Things to Consider About Race Tracks and the Schedule

NASCAR has 27 different venues between points and non-points-paying races this season. Of those venues, here are the race tracks that currently host a Playoff race.

  • Darlington
  • Kansas
  • Bristol
  • Texas
  • Talladega
  • Charlotte ROVAL
  • Las Vegas
  • Homestead
  • Martinsville
  • Phoenix

Of the tracks not on the Playoff schedule, there are practical reasons why a few tracks are not included on the schedule. The main reason is weather. Some race tracks are simply too far north to host a race this late into the year for both the reasons of rain and cold.

Tracks that are not practical for, particularly late playoff races when the weather turns cold, include Pocono, Michigan, Pocono, New Hampshire, and Dover. This also accounts for tracks like Indianapolis, Gateway, and Kansas, which Kansas is already in the Playoffs. You may be able to host an early Playoff race at these tracks, but late Playoff races are not practical.

There are also a couple of race tracks that are not options because of scheduling. COTA hosts the Formula One United States Grand Prix in the fall every year, so, hosting a NASCAR Playoff event is probably not the best decision for the race track. The Chicago Street Race is contractually obligated to be held on the same weekend every year, so that track is out.

NASCAR may also want to consider a variety of tracks for each round, and it seems that they like the Finale at Phoenix for the time being. With that in mind, here is a look at a unique Playoff schedule for NASCAR.

The 2024 Playoff Schedule

With those rules in mind, here is an idealistic look at how the Playoff schedule could change in 2024. Sure, not all of this is totally realistic, but, it is an idea for NASCAR to put together something totally unique.

Race 1: Southern 500 at Darlington

Labor Day weekend is the traditional Southern 500 date, and there is no reason to change that. The Southern 500 does not necessarily need the Playoffs to boost itself, but having it be the Playoff opener just makes sense given the time of year. It’s hard to see NASCAR changing much from here.

Race 2: Watkins Glen International

Yes, the Bristol Night Race swaps spots with Watkins Glen in this scenario. The reasoning for this is to keep a road course race in the Playoffs while allowing the Bristol Night Race to maintain a spot on the schedule similar to what it is now. It is still September, so the weather at Watkins Glen is reasonable this time of year.

Race 3: World Wide Technology Raceway

It may be strange to move a race from a NASCAR-owned track, but, for the sake of variety, this track is not too ridiculously far from Kansas. Race fans who live in Missouri may go to both race tracks during the year, and World Wide Technology Raceway has hosted good crowds. It could be an interesting and fun event, while also keeping an intermediate on the schedule.

Race 4: Nashville Superspeedway

Texas Motor Speedway is loathed by many NASCAR fans, and we actually also made this swap in our “7 Bold Ideas for the 2024 Schedule”. Nashville has sold out two of the last three seasons, and this gives a big NASCAR market a marquee event. Plus, given its’ location, the weather in late September/early October is still good enough to run a race here.

Race 5: Atlanta Motor Speedway

Atlanta and Talladega are not too far apart, and Atlanta has a similar style of racing to Talladega. Atlanta used to have a traditional fall race date before that was taken away in the 2000s, but why not bring it back? Keeping a similar race track in the Playoffs to what is being replaced is important, and Atlanta has lights.

Race 6: Charlotte Oval

With Watkins Glen now in the Playoffs, the Charlotte Oval can return to its’ fall date. The racing product at the oval has been great in the Next-Gen era, and it would be a fun event to set the field for the Round of 8.

Races 7-10: Las Vegas, Homestead-Miami, Martinsville, and Phoenix

The final four races all remain the same simply because they make sense. The weather is good enough in all of these locations for races to happen, and that becomes big during this time of year in October turning to November. Martinsville has become a can’t-miss event, and Phoenix is well-liked by the industry seemingly as the Championship Race.

Keep in mind that this is all an idealistic schedule, but it shows that NASCAR can be creative with these races. If they are looking to change up the regular season schedule, then why not the Playoff schedule?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts