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What Changes Can NASCAR Make to the Playoff Schedule?

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What’s Happening?

The 2025 NASCAR schedule remains largely a mystery, and big changes could be on the horizon. One focal point of the 2025 schedule is the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, and at least some in the garage seem to think there could be some changes. Freddie Kraft on “Door, Bumper, Clear” indicated that three races could be removed from the Playoffs in 2025.

  • The 2024 Playoff schedule is one of the wildest and most aggressive NASCAR has ever had. With two superspeedway races and two road course races, wild cards are aplenty in the 2024 Playoffs. Could that change in 2025?
  • The 2024 saw some tweaks made to accommodate the Olympic break. These changes could see some adjustments in the Olympic break.
  • Fans are interested in seeing what these changes could be. While one of them is quite obvious, the others are not as obvious.

What We Know So Far

Currently, NASCAR has confirmed one date for the 2025 Playoffs. Phoenix will once again host the season finale for the sixth consecutive season.

We also know that Atlanta will not be the Playoff opener once again. Atlanta returns to a summertime night race on June 28th to open the In-Season Tournament and the TNT portion of the 2025 schedule.

Presumably, with the schedule now condensed to 36-points races plus two non-points events over 39 weeks, the Playoff opener will again fall on Labor Day weekend. This means the Southern 500 will likely regain its original spot as the Playoff opener, opening up the middle eight races of the Playoffs for changes.

2024 Race2023 RaceOther Notes
Southern 500 (Not confirmed, but almost certain)Atlanta (Date Moving for 2025)
TBAWatkins Glen
TBABristol Night RaceROUND OF 16 CUTOFF
TBAKansas
TBATalladega
TBACharlotte RovalROUND OF 12 CUTOFF
TBALas Vegas
TBAHomestead-Miami
TBAMartinsvilleROUND OF 8 CUTOFF
PhoenixPhoenixSEASON FINALE

The one race that feels safe in that group is Talladega. With Atlanta out of the 2025 Playoffs and both Daytona races announced with regular season dates, NASCAR probably wants to ensure at least one Playoff race occurs on a superspeedway, meaning Talladega will probably stay.

What Could Go?

Kraft called the other two changes to the Playoffs “Big surprises,” meaning that seemingly no race is safe.

One race to consider is the Playoff race at the Charlotte Roval. Dale Earnhardt Jr. indicated in a recent episode of the Dale Jr. Download that he believes Marcus Smith might/should consider removing the Roval from the schedule and giving the race back to the Charlotte Oval. Granted, it would be strange to move the Roval before a race is held on the new configuration, but it’s not impossible.

The Roval also depends on the future of Watkins Glen, a race that was pushed into the Playoffs to accommodate the Olympics. If NASCAR puts Watkins Glen back into the regular season, then Roval will probably stay to keep a road course in the playoffs.

With the short track package struggling to produce consistently good races, even races like Martinsville and Bristol could be on the chopping block. The Night Race at Bristol hasn’t been traditionally a September race, so maybe it could move back to its traditional summertime date. Martinsville has struggled to produce good races with the Next-Gen car, so does NASCAR want to give this critical date to a short track?

The three races left are Kansas, Las Vegas, and Homestead-Miami, all intermediate tracks. Kansas just produced the closest finish in NASCAR history this past May, and Homestead-Miami is reportedly pushing to get the Championship date back in 2026. Las Vegas is an interesting one as, despite being in a large market, the crowd did not look great for the 2023 Playoff race.

What Could Jump In?

We must consider geography when deciding which tracks could join the Playoffs in 2025. The Playoff races are held in the fall, meaning most Northern tracks are likely not to join the later rounds.

The easiest one to point to is the Charlotte Oval. If the Roval leaves the schedule, it would only make sense to return to the oval to keep a race in the home of most NASCAR teams.

Maybe a track like Nashville could slot into a Playoff date. It’s a market that has embraced NASCAR in recent years, and a Playoff race on another intermediate track would be well-received by fans.

If Richmond loses a date on the 2025 schedule, could NASCAR move a Playoff date to Richmond as a consolation prize? Richmond has not consistently produced the best racing in the Next-Gen era, so, this might be a strange move, albeit possible.

Midwestern tracks Indianapolis and Michigan could host a first-round race in September. However, does that really excite a lot of people? It would also take these tracks away from their generally traditional summer dates. Yes, Indianapolis hosted the Regular Season Finale in 2018 and 2019, but that was a brief experiment.

If the Chicago Street Race runs into more political snags, could Chicagoland return, potentially during the first round of the Playoffs? Chicagoland hosted the Playoff opener from 2011 through 2017.

There are many possibilities, but it’s tough to say what is true and what is not. Ultimately, time will tell what happens with the 2025 Playoff schedule.

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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