After NASCAR unveiled the 2022 Cup Series Schedule, I decided to sit down and take a swing at what I think it should look like in 2023.
One thing I learned during this process was, it's not easy... Not even a little bit. I moved races around multiple times until I got it right where I wanted it. You will notice that I was selective in what tracks got multiple dates. I guess Kyle Busch got in my head by saying you should only visit a place once, but to an extent, I agree. I think there are some places and cities that you should consider going to twice, so that is reflected here.
NASCAR decided to be bold and take the Clash to the LA Coliseum. Time will tell if that will work or not, but I don't see it happening two years in a row given that it's a temporary surface. So, I decided to send it back to Florida... but at New Smyrna Beach! The 1/2 mile speedway is where a lot of drivers raced (and still do) coming up through the ranks. I think it would put on a good show with some beating and banging.
The early part of the schedule is pretty similar to what they will have in 2022, with exception to Autoclub Speedway (Fontana) becoming a short track and moving Sonoma into early March to keep with the NASCAR Goes West theme right after the Daytona 500. The schedule shifts back east at COTA at the end of March.
I am a traditionalist and love "short track season." You'll notice several short tracks scattered throughout the schedule, but I decided to bunch them up in April starting on the dirt at Bristol, then going to Richmond and finally Martinsville... all under the lights.
As we get through the middle part of the spring, nothing really changes too much. I moved Kansas up a bit for their only race of the season at the end of April.
Then we get to June... NASCAR goes back to World Wide Technology Raceway AKA Gateway for the same date it will have in '22, but then... to Nashville... The Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway FINALLY returns to the Cup Series for the first time since 1984. It'll be a hot summer night with plenty of tempers flaring in the Music City. It'll be good to see the All American 400 back in the big time. If you're wondering about Nashville Superpeedway... Don't you worry, I've got big plans there.
Another change is moving Watkins Glen up into June out of its traditional August date. There's a drop off in road courses after COTA in March, so I figured adding one in June wouldn't hurt. The month wraps up with Pocono's only date.
Here's where I got creative. I was bummed out that the Daytona Road Course wasn't included. I have also thought that NASCAR should consider the double header weekends more as a way to reduce the number of weeks on the schedule while still having 36 events. The Next Gen Car will make set ups for different tracks much easier, so why not go to Daytona for July 4th Weekend and run Saturday under the lights on the Road Course and Sunday under the lights on the big track? It's sure to be a lot of fun.
The only off weekend would be following the craziness at Daytona to give the drivers a little R&R to celebrate America before they return at Road America on July 16th. New Hampshire and Michigan fill out July which leads us into more creativity to start August. A double header in Indy, but a Saturday night race on the short track at Lucas Oil Raceway and a Sunday race at the Brickyard. Again, the new car makes things much easier and with no practice and qualifying (add a test at Lucas Oil) you don't need a back up car for either. The odds of this one happening are pretty slim, but I can dream right?
The regular season wraps up under the lights at Texas on August 13th. You've probably been wondering... "What about the All Star Race?" This one I am pretty proud of. In May, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper promised to devote $30 Million to North Carolina Race tracks, including Rockingham Speedway. With some repairs, I believe it will be back up to snuff to host the All Star Race. It would be a perfect way to return to the famed NC track, albeit for maybe a one off. Again, this one could be a pipe dream, but I know die hard race fans would love it.
Now we get to the playoffs... You'll notice a lot of the familiar stops with some new ones mixed in. The post season opens under the lights on the traditional concrete at Bristol followed by Labor Day weekend at Darlington. Atlanta's only race of the year joins the playoffs as the cut off for the Round of 16.
I told you I had big plans for Nashville Superspeedway... it will open up the Round of 12 as the Music City has its second race of the year and first in NASCAR's post season. Having the city that hosts NASCAR's end of season celebration in the playoffs just makes sense. The Round of 12 includes Homestead and the Roval.
The Round of 8 will open with the craziness at Talladega before going to Phoenix which will not host the Championship race this year. I'd like to see that race move around, which I believe will be NASCAR's intention. The Championship 4 field will be set at Martinsville for the second to last race of the year. Finally, the 2023 Champion will be crowned in... Las Vegas. After losing the banquet to Nashville, Vegas still has a place within NASCAR and the track creates some exciting racing. It'll be fun to see a champion crowned under the bright lights.
So there you have it! You'll notice that I have a pretty uniformed start time procedure with Sunday afternoon races starting at 1:00PMET/12:00PMCT unless they're on the West Coast and then they start at 3:00PMET/2:00PMCT. Night races will begin at 7:00PMET/6:00PMCT with the Coke 600 starting one hour earlier. I feel like this continues NASCAR's diversity when it comes to the schedule and while I know some of these things may not happen, maybe just maybe they'll get some good ideas!
See the full schedule below and leave your comments as well!