3 Cup Tracks That Should Fall Off the Schedule or Lose a Race in the Near Future

With NASCAR’s recent expansion into new race markets, as evidenced by this season’s inaugural Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway outside St. Louis and next year’s first-ever Chicago street course event, it goes without saying that every time NASCAR adds one race, another race has to fall off the schedule to make room for the newbie.

Tracks that have lost Cup dates — or dropped off the calendar altogether — to clear space for new races in recent years include Chicagoland Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Pocono, Michigan, New Hampshire, Dover, Texas, and Road America.

So which tracks will be the next victims of the Cup Series’ continued growth into unchartered territories? With the 2023 schedule already set, let’s take a brief look at three races that should be on the proverbial chopping block if the Cup Series continues to broaden its reach in 2024 and beyond.

The fall Daytona race

The grandstand at Daytona International Speedway.
The NASCAR season could do without a spring race at Daytona. | Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

If NASCAR wants to make the Daytona 500 even more special and prestigious than it already is, it should make the 500 the only Cup race each year at the fabled 2.5-mile superspeedway built by NASCAR founder William H.G. “Big Bill” France.

As outlandish as taking a race away from a track with as much history as Daytona may sound, it’s really not outlandish at all when you consider just how unpopular the regular season finale at Daytona has become. Not only does the race seem to get postponed a day by rain almost every season, but drivers almost universally despise a track where so much is out of their control being the place where so much is at stake.

Drivers would rather this last-chance-type-of-race take place at a track where their destinies aren’t beholden to whether they get caught up in one or more of the all-too-familiar multi-car wrecks that are virtually inevitable at both Daytona and Talladega due to the close-quarters, big-pack style of racing.

While NASCAR is probably unlikely to take a points race away from Daytona, especially considering that the high-banked Florida track has already lost its Busch Clash preseason exhibition race to the LA Coliseum in the past year, if you’re going to remove a race from the calendar based on its popularity — or lack thereof — with the drivers, Daytona’s fall race would probably be the first to go.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course

Sorry, Brickyard lovers, but NASCAR didn’t make its long-awaited, highly anticipated Indianapolis Motor Speedway debut in 1994 only to nearly three decades later decide to move this once-upon-a-time marquee event to Indy’s far less famous infield road course

No, the idea was for NASCAR’s best to compete on the fabled 2.5-mile oval that hosted its first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. The same track where guys with last names like Unser, Mears, and Foyt have celebrated historic victories and sipped the iconic milk in Victory Lane to celebrate a career-defining achievement. The same track that for more than a century has played host to what’s widely considered the most grandiose motorsports event in the world.

The bottom line? If NASCAR is going to opt for Cup Series drivers to compete on the Indy road course instead of the beloved oval track, as it has the past two seasons, then the Cup Series need not bother going to Indianapolis at all — especially considering that NASCAR’s premier division now races on more road courses than it has at almost any point in the sport’s 75-year history.

The Bristol dirt race

Yes, I know, I know. The dirt race held the last two springs at Bristol Motor Speedway is the only one of its kind for NASCAR’s top division. But is uniqueness alone really a good reason to keep getting dirty year after year?

Hardly.

The novelty of a Cup Series race being contested on dirt ended the moment the checkered flag waved on the first Bristol dirt race in 2021. But, despite multiple drivers — the most vocal of them being Kevin Harvick and 2022 Bristol dirt race winner Kyle Busch — making it known last spring that they’re basically done with the whole dirt-track experiment, the Cup Series is competing on a clay-covered Bristol for a third consecutive spring in 2023.

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If NASCAR needs to open up some dates in 2024, one of the first races it should consider scrapping is the one on the Bristol dirt — which has proven exceedingly difficult to pass on and failed to generate the kind of fan interest and driver embrace that NASCAR and event promoters anticipated.