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Which Tracks Should Host NASCAR’s Cut-Off Race for the Playoffs?

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Joshua Lipowski

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This week, the Cup Series moves on to Daytona for the Playoff Cut-Off Race. NASCAR has hosted this race at three different tracks through the years including Richmond, Indianapolis, and now Daytona. While Daytona is an understandable pick for this race for many reasons, at some point, NASCAR will likely want to make a change. Daytona being on this date means the iconic 4th of July race is now gone.

With all of this in mind, what other tracks could NASCAR go to for this Playoff cut-off race? There are more than a few options that NASCAR could look at.

1. Atlanta Motor Speedway

Atlanta Motor Speedway has surged in popularity since the recent reconfiguration of the track following the 2021 season. The track would make sense for the cut-off race for a couple of reasons. One, the second race is currently held on the second weekend of July, so, a switch with Daytona could mean an almost return of the traditional Firecracker 400. Atlanta has also hosted late summer races before.

From 2009 through 2014, Atlanta used to host a Sunday night race on Labor Day weekend, and the Playoff Cut-off race is now just a week before Labor Day. It would also keep the race on a drafting-style superspeedway-type track, so it’s not too far of a departure from Daytona. Atlanta is also a historic race track, and that is the type of place where a big event like this should be held.

2. Bristol Motor Speedway

This would also be the return of a traditional race date. The Bristol Night Race used to be held in the final weeks of August, and that is the time of year when the current Playoff cut-off race is held. NASCAR would likely need to fix the current short track package for this race to work, but, if they do, what a race it would be.

NASCAR could do this by either swapping the Daytona and Bristol dates and probably moving Daytona to the second race of the first round. They could also move Daytona to Atlanta’s slot, and Atlanta moves to the first round of the Playoffs with the return of the traditional Atlanta fall date. If the short track package is fixed, then Bristol is a great place to hold this race.

3. Nashville Superspeedway

Nashville is a market that loves and continues to support NASCAR, so, why not give that track a marquee date? It also fits the current Next-Gen car with the racing product on intermediate race tracks being some of the best ever seen on those types of tracks. We may not see the pack racing of Daytona or the beating and banging of Bristol, but we could see some of the best racing the Next-Gen car has to offer.

Again, a simple schedule swap of Daytona and Nashville could work here. We also could see Daytona swap with Atlanta as well, but, that’s probably a bit extra for just a two-week difference. Regardless, Nashville would be a fun race, and the market would certainly welcome NASCAR with open arms for a big event like this.

4. Homestead-Miami Speedway

Homestead-Miami would keep the Playoff cut-off race in the same state as it currently is. It also moves it to a race track that highlights what this Next-Gen car does best, intermediate-style racing. Hometead-Miami is one of the most popular intermediate race tracks in the sport, and it could be a fun race.

It would require some major schedule changes, but it could be done. It could do the same Atlanta/Daytona swap to return the traditional fall date of Atlanta and the summer Daytona date. The market may not embrace NASCAR like others do, but the racing product would be interesting.

5. Talladega Superspeedway

Instead of Talladega being in the Playoffs, why not move it to the Playoff cut-off race? A simple switch with Talladega and Daytona and even the Atlanta/Daytona swap we proposed earlier could allow for Talladega to move to this slot.

This could allow NASCAR to keep a superspeedway in the Playoffs while also getting some traditional dates back on the schedule. If they add lights at Talladega, then that would make this race very fun. Imagine a brand new Talladega tradition with the return of Daytona’s 4th of July race and Atlanta’s fall date.

These are just a few suggestions for where NASCAR could hold the race that now determines the Playoff field. Based on the racing product, the schedule, and other factors, each of these tracks would be a fun place to hold this event. Which one is the best?

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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