Opinion: Schedule Shake-Up
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on September 25, 2013 | 4:30 P.M. EST
There hasn’t been much in the way of change for the Sprint Cup calendar in several years. (Photo: Getty Images)
Waiting around for the 2014 Sprint Cup Series schedule? Don’t worry; even though NASCAR official say the formal release of next year’s slate is still at least a few days away it’s not difficult to piece the slate together.
Based on dates the tracks have already announced next year’s campaign will look very much like this year’s….and the year before…and the year before that, etc.
There hasn’t been much in the way of change for the Sprint Cup calendar in several years. And even the minor swaps that have taken place were hardly anything earth shattering.
As a public service I’ve gone ahead and pieced together the 2014 Sprint Cup slate based on announced dates, tradition and discussion in the garage area. While booking travel is still premature, here’s what next year’s calendar should look like once it’s officially distributed by NASCAR.
TENTATIVE 2014 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES SCHEDULE
Saturday, February 15 Daytona (Sprint Unlimited)
Thursday, February 20 Daytona (Budweiser Duel)
Sunday, February 23 Daytona 500
Sunday, March 2 Phoenix
Sunday, March 9 Las Vegas
Sunday, March 16 Bristol
Sunday, March 23 Auto Club Speedway
Sunday, March 30 Martinsville
Sunday, April 6 Texas
Sunday, April 13 Kansas
Sunday, April 20 EASTER
Saturday, April 26 Richmond
Sunday, May 4 Talladega
Saturday, May 10 Darlington
Saturday, May 17 Charlotte (All-Star Race)
Sunday, May 25 Charlotte
Sunday, June 1 Dover
Sunday, June 8 Pocono
Sunday, June 15 Michigan
Sunday, June 22 Sonoma
Saturday, June 28 Kentucky
Saturday, July 5 Daytona
Sunday, July 13 New Hampshire
Sunday, July 20 OFF WEEKEND
Sunday, July 27 Indianapolis
Sunday, August 3 Pocono
Sunday, August 10 Watkins Glen
Sunday, August 17 Michigan
Saturday, August 23 Bristol
Sunday, August 31 Atlanta
Saturday, September 6 Richmond
Sunday, September 14 Chicagoland
Sunday, September 21 New Hampshire
Sunday, September 28 Dover
Sunday, October 5 Kansas
Saturday, October 11 Charlotte
Sunday, October 19 Talladega
Sunday, October 26 Martinsville
Sunday, November 2 Texas
Sunday, November 9 Phoenix
Sunday, November 16 Homestead
Look familiar? It should because except for the tweak of Texas moving to a Sunday afternoon in April to avoid a head-to-head conflict with the NCAA Final Four in nearby Arlington the schedule is virtually identical to the 2013 slate.
It’s time NASCAR apply some creative thinking to the process. With NBC and FOX kicking off their $8.2 billion television deal in 2015, it would be the perfect opportunity to shake up the proceedings.
There are definitely tent pole events throughout the year that should be sacred; Daytona in February, Charlotte in May and the return of Darlington to Labor Day was the Holy Trinity until NASCAR messed with tradition. That should be rectified immediately.
But why not slide some other venues around and give fans something new and different?
If anything NASCAR has to look to somehow reinvigorate the ten tracks that comprise the Chase with more variety and different venues in the mix than basically the same group that has made up the playoff season since its inception.
There’s talk Indianapolis could slide into the Chase opening spot come 2015 and kick things off under the lights at one of the most prestigious sporting venues in the world. The addition of the Sonoma road course is also speculated and an autumn trip to Northern California sounds like a pleasant way to spend an afternoon while infusing some of what has become a fan favorite style of racing into the playoffs.
The NFL and NBA have created television specials around the announcement of their season schedules. NASCAR has an opportunity to spice up what has simply become a formality every year.
Variety is the spice of life and the Sprint Cup Series schedule needs something to add some flavor to what’s become a very bland recipe.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.