We have had almost two weeks to digest the 2024 NASCAR schedule and now seems like as good of a time as any to step back and look at the bigger picture. Steve Phelps teased that the schedule would be “The most aggressive”. Well, was the 2024 schedule really that aggressive?
The New Venues…Or Lack thereof
When people thought about an “Aggressive” 2024 schedule, many thought about new venues. NASCAR has been bold when it comes to new venues in recent years as at least one new race track has popped up on the schedule in six of the last seven years from 2018 through 2024. Throughout the summer NASCAR fans were enchanted by the thought of going to Montreal, Canada, or making a race like North Wilkesboro a points race.
In reality, only one new track entered the 2024 schedule, Iowa Speedway. Now, Iowa entering the 2024 schedule is not a bad thing by any means. However, when fans are teased with an “Aggressive” 2024 schedule, only one new track is not what they expected.
It’s hard to call a schedule “Aggressive” if 35 out of 36 races are still at the same venues as the previous year’s schedule. It’s especially tough when fans were teased with the idea of going to a major market like Montreal, Canada, which would be the first international race for NASCAR’s top division. Iowa, while a great venue, just does not have the glitz and glamour of Montreal, and Iowa has to stand on its’ own as the only new venue on the schedule.
Technically, the Indianapolis oval could be considered a new venue since it was not on the 2023 schedule, but, NASCAR already has 27 years of racing done there. Also, NASCAR still raced on the road course at the venue, and they raced at the oval most recently in 2020. It’s not exactly a totally new venue.
There were plenty of new venues that fans were hoping to see NASCAR either go to or return to in 2024. North Wilkesboro Speedway was a track many thought about gaining a points date, and Rockingham Speedway was another classic track some thought could come back. Road America was a popular track fans were hoping to bring back as well.
What about a track like Portland since that is in a market NASCAR has not tapped into much? What about a California race track being renovated to take the place of Auto Club Speedway? At the end of the day, it is only one new venue.
The Dates Moved Around
Now, as much as the lack of new tracks on the 2024 schedule is a disappointment to those who anticipated an “Aggressive” 2024 schedule, the dates moved around are certainly interesting. NASCAR is doing things that many never thought NASCAR would do.
Atlanta’s two dates in particular are a source of conversation with the two races being the second race of the season right after the Daytona 500 and the Playoff opener in September. This means that NASCAR has two drafting, superspeedway-style races to start the season, and they have two of those races in the Playoffs.
On top of that, Watkins Glen is now in the Playoffs, and that means there are two road courses in the Playoffs as well. The Playoffs now have two road courses and two superspeedways, which make for more wild card races. As controversial as it is, that is indeed aggressive.
The return of the Brickyard 400 is also an aggressive and risky move considering the fall the event had throughout the 2010s. However, some major dates that fans have been looking to change did not change.
The season finale is still at the same place, Phoenix, which some fans are not thrilled about. The All-Star Race also remains the same, which, while not a bad move, does mean North Wilkesboro does not get a points race. The Roval returns as well despite fans hoping for another Charlotte Oval race.
Overall, the schedule has elements of aggression in it. However, was it as aggressive as fans expected/hoped it would be? That is highly debatable.