The NASCAR 2021 Schedule

The NASCAR Cup Series will run at a very different distribution of tracks in 2021 than in any year past. Here’s the first in a series of posts looking at schedule changes and how they might impact drivers in 2021.

Schedule 2021

Let’s jump right in and start off by looking at the distribution of track types for 2021. What I call ‘Other’ tracks are Fontana, Indy, Michigan and Pocono.

A pie chart showing the distribution of different types of tracks NASCAR's 2021 season

The largest part of the NASCAR schedule are short tracks — tracks less than a mile-and-a-half in length. They make up a third of the schdule.

The next biggest class are the intermediate tracks. We won’t visit Kentucky or Chicagoland this year.

We’ve added a bunch of new road courses: Road America, Circuit of the Americas, and the Road Course at Indy. We added the Daytona Road Course in 2020.

Comparison with 2019

I’m not comparing the changes in the schedule with 2020 just because 2020 was weird and the schedule had to change on the fly. So let’s compare 2021 with the last normal season.

Pie charts comparing how the types of tracks on the NASCAR schedule have changed in 2021

Two types of tracks haven’t changed

  • There are still four superspeedway races
  • Short tracks still make up a third of the schedule.

But we see significant shifts in other track types

  • Road Courses more than double, going from 8.3% of the schedule to 19.4% in 2021. That’s a total of 7 road course races in 2021.
  • Intermediate-track races are down from 30.6% to a quarter of the schedule.
  • ‘Other’ tracks do the reverse of the road-course tracks, going from 16.7% to 8.3%
  • Finally, we’ve got NASCAR’S first Cup-level dirt race in 2021. The ‘2.8%’ label was too big to squeeze into that little piece of the pie.

A Historical Look at Schedules

I went back to 1990 and looked at how the number of races and the types of tracks run have changed over the years. The result is the waterfall graph below.

A waterfall graph showing the types of tracks on the NASCAR schedule from 1990-2021

I like this graph because you can really see how NASCAR changed in the 2000s with the addition of more intermediate tracks. The number of short tracks hasn’t gone down in absolute numbers, but it has gone down in real numbers because the number of races run in a season has gone up.

Coming Up

I’ll look at which drivers (current and historical) have dominated at each type of track. The first up is the superspeedways.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Which NASCAR Drivers are Best at Superspeedways? : Building Speed
  2. How Does Having Seven Road Courses in 2021 Change the Championship Race? : Building Speed

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