Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.

What Goes Into Keeping a Track On the NASCAR Schedule?

Let us know what you think

Join the conversation on socials

North Carolina Moonshine and Motorsports Trail

What’s Happening?

On the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, plenty of tracks have become staples of the calendar, but others have had a harder time catching on. Staying on the NASCAR schedule is about more than just one thing, and today, we look at all the factors that keep track of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule.

  • Many tracks on the NASCAR schedule have been there for a long time. Each track has taken care of all of these factors, which has kept them on the schedule for so long.
  • NASCAR has publicly expressed many factors that contribute to staying on schedule. Tracks that don’t do these things often struggle to stay on the schedule.
  • Fans have a love/hate relationship with certain tracks coming and going. Some tracks fans wanted to see go, others they didn’t want to see go.

Attendance

Fan support is undoubtedly the most important piece of keeping a race track alive. If fans stop showing up, the empty grandstands mean less revenue from fans at the track and a drab atmosphere on television. It’s tough to tell fans they should come to a venue if the grandstands are half full.

When asked about the NASCAR schedule last off-season, Steve Phelps told NBC Sports’ Dustin Long that they would focus on tracks that sell out. Tracks that don’t sell out, particularly those with two race dates, could risk losing a date.

Army Air Force Exchange Veterans Block

We’ve seen tracks rewarded in recent years thanks to the support of local fans. Gateway and Nashville are both relatively new venues that have sold out the grandstands, and both tracks figure to be a part of the 2025 NASCAR schedule for years to come. Legacy tracks like Martinsville, Daytona, and Bristol all pull in either sellout crowds or some of the largest attendances of the season.

Compare that to Richmond, which, according to Jordan Bianchi, is reportedly in danger of losing a date in 2025. That track did not pull in a sellout crowd this season.

However, this is not everything. Road America brought in over 100,000 fans when it joined the Cup Series schedule, so why did it leave the schedule? This track left the schedule largely due to the next factor on the list.

The Market It Serves

In that same webinar, Phelps later told Long that NASCAR needs to go to “Places that have demand.” This means that tracks need to be placed in big markets with an appetite for NASCAR racing.

This is true of many of the tracks that went up in the 1980s and 1990s, such as Kansas, Texas, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Homestead-Miami, amongst others. Sonoma, where the Cup Series heads every June, is the only current Cup Series points race in California, so that race is important from a market standpoint. Pocono is NASCAR’s closest track to New York City, and the track sold out in 2023.

However, there is also the issue of having too many tracks in the same area. This played a major role in Rockingham and North Wilkesboro leaving the schedule during the expansion and Darlington dropping to only one race date between 2005 and 2019.

This is also why Road America was dropped from the schedule. The Chicago Street Race joined the schedule, only a few hours South of Road America, and having both races would have oversaturated the market in NASCAR’s eyes.

However, tracks like Atlanta and Talladega are even closer to each other. Why do these tracks get a pass despite being so close?

The Racing Product

This can be the trump card of the NASCAR schedule. A race track has to produce good racing because, ultimately, that’s what the fans come to see. A compelling racing product can cause NASCAR to overlook certain other issues. As Phelps told Long, NASCAR makes exceptions for tracks that may struggle with attendance if racing is “Extraordinary.”

Look at Talladega and Atlanta as prime examples. Both tracks are only a couple of hours apart, but they produce some of the most compelling racing on the circuit. As a result, it’s a no-brainer for NASCAR to visit both tracks not once but twice per year.

While the short track package has struggled recently, Bristol and Martinsville retain two race dates per year despite their proximity to other race tracks. Both tracks have produced some of the best NASCAR moments in recent years.

Coincidentally, poor racing can often remove a track from the schedule. It’s no surprise that a poor racing product can often affect attendance, which is another major part of whether or not NASCAR retains a track on the schedule. Kentucky Speedway, for example, left the calendar due to poor racing and declining attendance.

The Facilities

This one seems obvious, but tracks must meet a certain standard of facilities to be on the NASCAR schedule. Some tracks are better than others, but these facilities must be good even to be considered for a NASCAR date.

This includes all the necessary amenities at the track, such as enough grandstands, bathrooms, or luxury suites. Transportation needs include enough parking, access to a major highway, and trams to and from areas of the track. Kentucky Speedway dealt with a traffic nightmare in 2011, which got the track off on the wrong foot.

This is also a question about Iowa Speedway, where NASCAR will go for the first time this season. Depending on the source, the track only has between 25,000 and 30,000 permanent seats. While Iowa is more than capable of hosting the race, is that enough of a grandstand capacity to keep NASCAR around long-term?

This also applies to the race teams’ facilities. Tracks like the LA Coliseum and Bowman Gray Stadium would struggle to host a regular-season race since neither track has a permanent pit road with defined pit boxes needed for a long race.

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.

North Carolina Moonshine and Motorsports Trail

Let us know what you think

Join the conversation on socials

Share this:

Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts