Same Game

More pieces of next year's NEXTEL Cup Series puzzle keep coming in. Although an official announcement from NASCAR on the 2006 slate won't come for a few weeks, individual tracks have put out their dates for next season and ticket packages.

Darlington Raceway is safe again for next year after last May's successful Mother's Day weekend Saturday night show drew a sellout crowd and record television audience. The historic track comes back to Mother's Day weekend in 2006, albeit a week later than this year.

Labor Day weekend will once again be spent in Southern California as California Speedway gets two dates again - one directly following the Daytona 500 and the other on the end-of-summer holiday weekend.

The only two small wrinkles that appear to be part of the 2006 slate involve Easter - which is later next year and falls on April 16 - and a flip-flop of Talladega and Kansas Speedway's fall dates. Kansas will lead off the October portion of the schedule with Talladega falling in as the second race of the month.

Otherwise the look of next year's schedule will feel prety much the same as this year's. Remember these dates aren't official, so don't book your $200, three night minimum room reservations just yet.


Sunday, February 19 Daytona 500

Sunday, February 26 Fontana

Sunday, March 12 Las Vegas

Sunday, March 19 Atlanta

Sunday, March 26 Bristol

Sunday, April 2 Martinsville

Sunday, April 9 Texas

Sunday, April 16 Easter

Saturday, April 22 Phoenix*

Sunday, April 30 Talladega

Saturday, May 6 Richmond*

Saturday, May 13 Darlington*

Saturday, May 20 All-Star Race

Sunday, May 28 Charlotte

Sunday, June 5 Dover

Sunday, June 12 Pocono

Sunday, June 19 Michigan

Sunday, June 26 Sonoma

Saturday, July 1 Daytona

Sunday, July 9 Joliet

Sunday, July 16 New Hampshire

Sunday, July 23 Pocono

Sunday, August 6 Indianapolis

Sunday, August 13 Watkins Glen

Sunday, August 20 Michigan

Saturday, August 26 Bristol*

Sunday, September 3 Fontana

Saturday, September 9 Richmond*

Sunday, September 17 New Hampshire

Sunday, September 24 Dover

Sunday, October 1 Kansas

Sunday, October 8 Talladega

Saturday, October 14 Charlotte*

Sunday, October 22 Martinsville

Sunday, October 29 Atlanta

Sunday, November 5 Texas

Sunday, November 12 Phoenix

Sunday, November 19 Homestead

With the exception of the Daytona 500 and both Texas and Charlotte races, every event next year will be an impound race, which means practice and qualifying will take place mostly on Saturdays, leaving tracks dark on Friday.

Bigger scheduling issues regarding the Busch Series and Craftmsn Truck Series slates remain to be seen. There is still speculation there will be less Cup-Busch companion weekends next year and more Busch Series stand-alone events, possibly in conjunction with IRL races. Trucks, ARCA or NASCAR's Busch North/West/Elite Divisions could fill the bill as more Cup weekend support events.

The truck series will make its first visit to Talladega next season and series officials are trying to find a way to bring the circuit to Chicagoland Speedway, located in the backyard of corporate sponsor Craftsman.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2005

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