2024 NASCAR Cup Series schedule explained: Why Iowa is in, Montreal isn’t, and more

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The 2024 NASCAR Cup Series schedule has come to an end, and as has been the case for the past few years, it features several changes designed to bolster its 38-race calendar. The most notable addition to the schedule is the Cup Series’ inaugural visit to Iowa Speedway, while the biggest exclusion is not expansion beyond U.S. borders, as was widely expected.

So why was Iowa added and Montreal not? What is the reason for some of the other changes in the schedule? Let’s try to answer some of these questions.

What happened to expansion outside the United States, specifically Montreal?

NASCAR has been vocal in its desire to add an international points race to the schedule, with Canada and Mexico viewed internally as the most likely destinations due to logistics and fan demand. To fulfill this desire, NASCAR leadership explored various cities in both countries. In the process, Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve track has emerged as the most likely venue to be included on next year’s schedule.

Discussions took place between NASCAR and Montreal race organizers throughout the summer but continued without reaching an agreement. It was these ongoing negotiations that forced NASCAR to release its schedule later than it wanted.

According to industry sources familiar with the negotiations but not authorized to speak publicly, NASCAR and Montreal organizers have been unable to reach a deal that makes sense for both sides to add Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Ultimately, with the late September date looming and needing a final decision, NASCAR chose to pursue options elsewhere, and the idea of ​​racing in Montreal in 2024 was floated. It remains to be determined whether NASCAR and Montreal race organizers can reconsider Those are talks for 2025, but NASCAR remains committed to having an international points race on the Cup schedule soon.

How did Iowa Speedway finally make it to Cup date?

With Montreal looking increasingly unlikely, NASCAR needed a track to fill the void created when California Speedway was dropped from the schedule due to a proposed renovation project at that venue. What she sought was a track in an untapped or underserved market and also a track that would generate excitement among her fan base.

Checking those boxes is the 0.875-mile oval in Newton, Iowa. Drivers have long lobbied for the famed short track, located in Iowa’s underappreciated racing heartland, to host a Cup race. The news was generally well received, although some fans raised an issue about how the short track rules package would affect the quality of the racing.

Such fears are undoubtedly valid. But if NASCAR can improve the short track rules package, racing in Iowa has a chance to deliver big results.

Iowa’s addition was also helped by the fact that NASCAR owns the track, which makes negotiations with the promoter much easier than if it chose to go elsewhere outside of the group of tracks it owns. It’s worth noting that there was a scenario where both Montreal and Iowa were added to the 2024 schedule.

Go deeper

A first look at the 2024 NASCAR schedule: Cup changes, playoffs and more

Why does the regular season end in Darlington and not Daytona?

In the four years that Daytona International Speedway has hosted the regular season finals, it has quickly established itself as one of the most popular races on the schedule. This is what a circle of racing fans calls “can’t miss,” and often delivers the frenetic, anything-can-happen drama you want to see in the final race to determine qualifying eligibility.

Knowing this, it made sense that the second Daytona race would be on the short list of races that were fixed and would not be touched. Well not quite.

The catalyst for the surprising shift that sees Daytona positioned as the penultimate race of the regular season, with the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway sliding into the Daytona slot, is due, like most things, to television. In this case, NBC Sports, NASCAR’s television partner for the second half, is broadcasting the Summer Olympics and has asked NASCAR to take a two-week hiatus so it can focus its attention on covering that.

To approve this request, NASCAR had to find a way to accommodate the 38 races over the 41 weeks already announced with the championship finale set for Phoenix Raceway on November 3. League officials have explored the idea of ​​a midweek race or holding a race in the middle of the week. The track hosts two races during one weekend. According to industry sources who were not authorized to speak publicly, one option explored was for Richmond Raceway to host a Cup race on Thursday followed by a second race on Sunday.

But the idea of ​​a midweek race or double weekend was eventually scrapped, necessitating the season being extended by a week with the championship moved to 10 November. The domino effect of this was that, with the Southern 500 firmly established on the traditional Works Championship weekend, there was no way to position Daytona as the final race of the regular season. Darlington was the only option.

Will Daytona return to host the regular season finale in 2025?

If we’ve learned anything about how NASCAR has shaped the schedule in recent years, it’s that almost all options are on the table. However, as noted above, Daytona as the site where the regular season ends has proven to be very popular.

So, while nothing is guaranteed, the forecast is that Daytona has a very good chance of repositioning as the last regular-season race on the 2025 schedule.

How do teams feel about back-to-back super sprints to start the season?

Of the many changes to the schedule, it is the start of the season with back-to-back superspeedway races at Daytona and Atlanta that has generated the most consternation in the garage.

Over the past few weeks, as news spread that this could happen, several crew chiefs expressed their disbelief The athlete About this scenario. Their collective anxiety revolved around the real possibility of losing upwards of three cars over the first two races – and perhaps even four depending on what happened during the Clash exhibition – putting their teams in a big hole. Compounding that fear is that after Atlanta, the schedule takes teams on the West Coast for two weeks, making it difficult to rebuild their dwindling fleets.

Although crew chiefs are often concerned by nature, their concerns are valid considering how the Daytona and Atlanta races typically unfold. We’ll see if this comes to fruition or not, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind next spring.

2024 nascar cup series schedule

date Race/place

Sunday 4 February

Clash (Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum)

Thursday 15 February

Duel at Daytona

Sunday 18 February

Daytona 500

Sunday 25 February


Sunday 3 March

Las vigas

Sunday 10 March


Sunday 17 March

Bristol (concrete)

Sunday 24 March


Sunday 31 March

Richmond (Easter Eve)

Sunday 7 April


Sunday 14 April


Sunday 21 April


Sunday 28 April


Sunday, May 5


Sunday 12 May


Sunday, May 19

North Wilkesboro (All-Star Race)

Sunday 26 May


Sunday, June 2


Sunday, June 9


Sunday, June 16


Sunday 23 June

New Hampshire

Sunday 30 June

Nashville Superspeedway

Sunday 7 July

Chicago street racing

Sunday 14 July


Sunday 21 July

Indianapolis (Oval)

Sunday 28 July

Olympic break

Sunday 4 August

Olympic break

Sunday 11 August


Sunday 18 August


Saturday 24 August


Sunday 1 September

Darlington (end of regular season)

Sunday 8 September

Atlanta (start of playoffs)

Sunday 15 September

Watkins Glen

Saturday 21 September


Sunday 29 September


Sunday 6 October


Sunday 13 October

Charlotte Roval

Sunday 20 October

Las vigas

Sunday 27 October


Sunday 3 November


Sunday 10 November

Phoenix (Championship)

(Photo of Iowa Speedway during the 2019 Xfinity Series race: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

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