August 26, 2005 | 10:39 A.M. EST
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.
PROBABLE 2006 NEXTEL CUP SERIES SCHEDULE
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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