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Report: MAJOR 2025 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Schedule Changes

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What’s Happening?

The Athletic’s Jordan Bianchi reported on “The Teardown” podcast that NASCAR is “Tentatively” planning on dropping three tracks from the 2025 Playoff Schedule in favor of new ones. Atlanta (already announced), Watkins Glen, and Homestead are expected to move out of the Playoffs, with Darlington, New Hampshire, and Gateway coming in.

  • Atlanta had previously announced it would move out of the Playoffs, instead using its second date to open the in-season tournament on June 28, 2025. According to Bianchi, Homestead-Miami is expected to move its date to March—the track held springtime races in 2020 and 2021. Watkins Glen moved to the Playoffs in 2024 for the first time after traditionally hosting its Cup Series race date in August.
  • Darlington has been largely expected to become the Playoff opener again with the prestigious Southern 500 after being in the Playoff cutoff race this season, a product of the schedule having one less off-week in 2025. New Hampshire hosted playoff races from 2004 to 2017, including the playoff opener from 2004 to 2010. Gateway joined the NASCAR schedule for the first time in 2022, with each of the first three Cup Series races happening the first week of June.
  • Fans are very intrigued by these changes but are unsure if these are the right moves. With the Next-Gen cars struggling on flat, short tracks, adding more of these tracks in the Playoffs makes some skeptical.

How Will This Work?

Knowing where Atlanta and Darlington will end up as a result of this switch, where will other changes to the schedule end up? For the tracks entering the schedule, we must consider the weather. Here are New Hampshire and Gateway’s market’s average high temperatures for September and October according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

TrackSeptemberOctober
New Hampshire73°F61°F
Gateway81°F70°F

Pushing New Hampshire any further back than September could be a big risk, given its location as far North as it is. The fall race was in September when the track had a fall date from 1999 through 2017. Therefore, it would make the most sense for New Hampshire to slot into the second race of the Playoffs, where Watkins Glen is in 2024.

Gateway remains warmer for longer since it is further South, but cold weather could still be an issue.

NASCAR held races in late October at Kansas Speedway in 2020 and 2021, and the weather was not ideal. It was particularly cold for the 2020 race, with highs in the 40s°F.

Homestead-Miami is currently the middle race in the Round of 8, which is held in late October. Maybe NASCAR could move Gateway earlier into the Round and slot Las Vegas further back with Martinsville as the elimination race. NASCAR could also bump Talladega into the Round, so Gateway is pushed earlier in the schedule.

Regarding the races moving out, Bianchi reported that Homestead is slotting into March for NASCAR to gain another warm weather date in the spring. We know Atlanta is moving to June 28 to open the “In-Season Tournament.”

Where does Watkins Glen slot in? With the Olympic break not on the 2025 schedule, Watkins Glen could easily move back to early-mid August, where the race has traditionally been held throughout the track’s time in NASCAR.

How Does This Impact the Rest of the Schedule?

This could cause some shuffling both in the early part of the season and late in the season. We already discussed how this impacts the Playoffs and how there could be some shuffling in the Round of 12 and Round of 8 to accommodate the weather.

If Homestead-Miami moves to the springtime, the spring schedule needs to be changed. Bristol could move out of the mid-March slot to later in the spring to allow for dryer and warmer weather.

Other dates could be moved to Gateway’s slot in the first week of June. Dover has held races in the first week of June off-and-on throughout its history. Nashville could end up here as well since Atlanta is taking over the date in the last weekend of June for the “In-Season Tournament.” Nashville could also move into the spring, where the track held Xfinity Series weekends throughout the 2000s.

There are many things that still need to be worked out. However, the 2025 schedule is starting to take shape.

What do you think about all this? Let us know on Discord or X what your take is, and don’t forget you can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and even YouTube.

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