NASCAR Cup Series

C-LA-sh, Gateway debut headline NASCAR Cup schedule changes for 2022

4 Mins read
Credit: NASCAR

While not a shift as seismic as the 2021 calendar, the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series schedule will feature some major changes.  Thirty-six points races continue to be the norm as it has been since 2001.

Announced on Tuesday was the Busch Clash‘s relocation from its only home at Daytona International Speedway to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. A temporary quarter-mile short track will be constructed on the playing surface of the legendary football stadium. As the exhibition race is now located on the opposite side of the country, it is moved back a week to give teams some breathing space before Speedweeks (or just a single Speedweek now) at Daytona to properly kick off the season.

After the Daytona 500 on 20 February, Auto Club Speedway, which lost its 2020 and 2021 dates to COVID-19, returns to the schedule as the second race of the year to kick off the three-race West Coast Swing. The Daytona Road Course, which was first used as a temporary date in 2020 to make up for the lost Watkins Glen International race before doing it again for Auto Club in 2021, is thus not on the 2022 schedule. Following Atlanta Motor Speedway on 20 March, Circuit of the Americas rejoins the calendar after a rainy inaugural race last May.

April is almost exclusively short tracks with Talladega Superspeedway as the lone exception. Perhaps the biggest eye grabber this month is the return of Bristol Motor Speedway‘s dirt layout, though it will be as a night race on Easter Sunday.

The All-Star Race remains at Texas Motor Speedway for 2022, but has been bumped back into its traditional May slot before the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend.

The only new points race is the début of World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on 5 June. Located in Madison, Illinois, the 1.25-mile Gateway has hosted the Camping World Truck Series since 2003 and used to welcome the Xfinity Series from 1997 to 2010.

“I set some ambitious goals when I took over the race track and to see them come to fruition is a dream come true,” track owner Curtis Francois said. “Thanks to the hard work of our team, corporate partners such as (World Wide Technology head) Dave Steward and World Wide Technology, and sponsors like Bommarito Automotive Group, I am proud to welcome the NASCAR Cup Series to the St. Louis region. I can’t wait to celebrate this incredible victory with our fans.”

The move also brings the Cup Series back to Illinois, which previously had Chicagoland Speedway until it was axed in 2020. Located right across from St. Louis, Missouri, it is also the closest that the premier series raced to the state.

“Earning a NASCAR Cup race solidifies St. Louis’ position as one on the nation’s premier markets for professional sports, fan experiences and tourism,” commented Greater St. Louis, Inc. chair Andrew C. Taylor. “Curtis Francois and the team at the raceway have delivered a significant win for the Metro East and the entire St. Louis region.”

Consequently, Gateway’s arrival kills the Pocono Raceway doubleheader which had been used since 2020 as the Tricky Triangle now has just one date on 24 July. Pocono last had a single race in 1981.

“Although we are disappointed NASCAR has chosen to eliminate one of the two NASCAR Cup Series races at Pocono Raceway, we will continue to persevere and provide the best family-friendly experience and value to our guests,” read a track statement. “Bringing the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series Doubleheader with fans to life was a privilege. The Doubleheader concept was well-received by our race fans, partners, and guests. It yielded a sold-out infield, sold-out suite level and a strong attendance.

“This change does not affect our resolve, our legacy and how we will approach promoting NASCAR races and hosting our guests.  We have thrilled millions of spectators and thousands of the world’s greatest race car drivers over the past 47 years and, alongside NASCAR, we will host millions more.”

After having three off-weeks in 2021 (one for Easter and two for the Summer Olympics), there will be only one for 2022 between Sonoma Raceway (12 June) and Nashville Superspeedway (26 June). This point will mark Fox Sports passing the broadcasting baton to NBC for the rest of the year.

Richmond Raceway, the site of the most recent Cup race, is moved out of the playoffs into a 14 August slot. Formerly the last race of the regular season, Richmond was a playoff date since 2018.

As Richmond loses its playoff status, Homestead-Miami Speedway regains it. The longtime home of the season finale, Homestead was switched to a spring date in 2020 as NASCAR opted to make Phoenix Raceway the new Championship Round host. Homestead will be the eighth playoff race, placing it in the middle of the Round of 8. Kansas Speedway, previously the holder of that slot, will instead be the second race of the Round of 16.

Daytona will be the regular season-ending race and Darlington Raceway serves as the postseason kickoff, both for the third straight year. Texas, currently the Round of 8’s first race, moves to the Round of 12 as Las Vegas Motor Speedway takes its original place.

Phoenix will once again be the Championship Race.

“As we demonstrated last year, we are committed to creating the most dynamic schedule for our fans, long term,” NASCAR senior vice president of strategy and innovation Ben Kennedy stated. “With the addition of new and unique venues like the Coliseum and World Wide Technology Raceway, each in markets with passionate NASCAR fans, we’re continuing to build on bold changes to deliver the best racing in the world.

“This latest iteration of the schedule should lend itself to another season filled with drama and great racing on the track, starting with the Daytona 500 and culminating with NASCAR Championship Weekend at Phoenix Raceway.”

Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/NASCAR via Getty Images

Full schedule

#TrackDate
Ex.Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Clash)6 February
Ex.Daytona International Speedway (Duels)17 February
1Daytona International Speedway20 February
2Auto Club Speedway27 February
3Las Vegas Motor Speedway6 March
4Phoenix Raceway13 March
5Atlanta Motor Speedway20 March
6Circuit of the Americas27 March
7Richmond Raceway3 April
8Martinsville Speedway9 April
9Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt17 April
10Talladega Superspeedway24 April
11Dover International Speedway1 May
12Darlington Raceway8 May
13Kansas Speedway15 May
Ex.Texas Motor Speedway (All-Star Race)22 May
14Charlotte Motor Speedway29 May
15World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway5 June
16Sonoma Raceway12 June
17Nashville Superspeedway26 June
18Road America3 July
19Atlanta Motor Speedway10 July
20New Hampshire Motor Speedway17 July
21Pocono Raceway24 July
22Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course31 July
23Michigan International Speedway7 August
24Richmond Raceway14 August
25Watkins Glen International21 August
26Daytona International Speedway27 August
27Darlington Raceway4 September
28Kansas Speedway11 September
29Bristol Motor Speedway17 September
30Texas Motor Speedway25 September
31Talladega Superspeedway2 October
32Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval9 October
33Las Vegas Motor Speedway16 October
34Homestead-Miami Speedway23 October
35Martinsville Speedway30 October
36Phoenix Raceway6 November
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History major at San Jose State University and lifelong motorsports fan who covers NASCAR and the Stadium Super Trucks.
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