NASCAR Releases 2021 Schedule, Includes Major Changes, Dirt Track Race

The NASCAR Playoffs are ongoing, and racing's governing body has taken the opportunity to create entertainment for next year. NASCAR dropped the 2021 schedule on Wednesday, which featured multiple major changes to the packed slate of races. The list includes a trip to Bristol Motor Speedway for a dirt track race.

Early on in the 36-race schedule, the Cup Series drivers will head to Tennessee for the proposed dirt track race. This is the first dirt event for NASCAR since 1970, and it will take place on March 28. The news sparked excitement among many fans — although a few did make one observation. They proclaimed that Kyle Larson will dominate the race — provided NASCAR reinstates him — due to his long string of success in the World of Outlaws Sprint Series.

Along with the dirt track, the 2021 Cup Series schedule also takes drivers to an entirely new arena. They will take part in a race at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. This road course track has long been a premier destination for motorsports, but the event on May 23 will be NASCAR's first trip to the Texas track.

"Our company is proud to have a 60-year history of fabulous firsts in motorsports entertainment, and we are honored to bring America’s premier racing series to one of the world’s most renowned entertainment venues and cities for the very first time," said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith, per NASCAR. "I’d like to thank COTA CEO Bobby Epstein as well as NASCAR’s executive leadership for supporting us in an endeavor to do something that we believe will be spectacular for race fans, not only in Texas but around the world. We work and challenge ourselves every day at Speedway Motorsports to create amazing experiences that will last a lifetime, and we know NASCAR at COTA will deliver in 2021."

COTA will mark the first road course event of the season, but it won't be the last. The schedule also includes a race at Road America in Wisconsin and a special doubleheader weekend with IndyCar at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Cup Series traditionally races on the IMS oval, but the drivers will instead move to the road course for the first time.

The Cup Series schedule will also provide a unique twist to the All-Star Race. The one-off event with a $1 million prize purse traditionally took place at Charlotte Motor Speedway but moved to Bristol amid the COVID-19-altered season. In 2021, however, the All-Star Race will head to Texas Motor Speedway.

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With the major changes to the schedule, two tracks will see an increase in action. Darlington and Atlanta will each have two races in 2021 as opposed to the standard one-off. Darlington hosted three races in 2020 due to the pandemic and drew praise for the action on the track. Atlanta, on by comparison, last hosted two races in 2010.

Finally, the Nashville Superspeedway will host an event for the first time since 2011. NASCAR announced the change in early June and created excitement for Middle Tennessee residents. Now they will head to Lebanon on June 20 for the highly-anticipated race.