3 Tracks Worthy of Consideration to Replace Fontana on the 2024 Cup Series Schedule
For 2024, and possibly beyond, Auto Club Speedway won’t be part of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule as the track makes preparations to convert from a 2-mile oval to a short track at a future date that no one seems to know or even be able to estimate.
This means that, at least temporarily, NASCAR has an open spot to fill on the Cup Series schedule — and, needless to say, no shortage of tracks would love to fill it.
But which tracks not currently on the schedule warrant legitimate consideration for a points-paying race date?
Here are three that should absolutely be in the discussion.
North Wilkesboro Speedway
A fixture of NASCAR’s premier series schedule from 1949 through 1996, North Wilkesboro Speedway makes its much-anticipated return to the Cup Series tour this season.
The fabled North Carolina short track’s 2023 race carries an asterisk, however.
That’s because North Wilkesboro will host the NASCAR All-Star Race — a non-points-paying event — rather than one of the 36 points races. Provided all goes well with the All-Star Race this May, though, the .625-mile oval could be in the running to add a points race next year in addition to perhaps hosting the All-Star Race for the second season in a row.
Of course, a track serving as host to both the All-Star Race and a regular points race is hardly unprecedented. Charlotte Motor Speedway’s quad-oval did this for almost three decades, Bristol Motor Speedway did so in 2020, and Texas Motor Speedway followed suit in 2021 and 2022.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval
Displaced on the Cup Series schedule by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2021, the legendary 2.5-mile IMS oval located on the same grounds is widely thought to be poised for a comeback sometime in the near future.
So, why not 2024?
No track is more steeped in motorsports tradition than the iconic Brickyard oval, which hosted the Cup Series from 1994-2000 and has been the site of open-wheel racing’s world-famous Indianapolis 500 every year since 1911. The IndyCar Series added Indianapolis’ 2.439-mile road course to its schedule in 2014, and the venue has hosted both an IndyCar oval-track race and a road course race every year since.
There’s no good reason NASCAR couldn’t do the same — especially given that the Cup Series’ race on the oval has carried far more prestige than the one on the road course, which tends to provide a higher entertainment value.
Designed by NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace and owned by NASCAR, Iowa Speedway is a .875-mile short track located in the heartland of America.
Iowa hosted a total of 33 races — many of the highly entertaining variety — between the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series from 2009-2019.
But the venue has sat sadly idle for the past three years — at least where NASCAR is concerned.
Iowa Speedway remains in business, however, thanks mostly to the IndyCar Series, which has competed here every year since 2014 and returns again this July.
So, if Iowa Speedway is good enough for the United States’ premier open-wheel league, shouldn’t it also be good enough for the NASCAR Cup Series?
One would think so.
Iowa, therefore, deserves to get a look from NASCAR as the sport’s decision-makers search to find a replacement for Auto Club Speedway — at least until the ACS short track becomes a reality and not just an idea.