On Wednesday, NASCAR officials released the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule, which introduced three new tracks, expanded to six road course races, and threw in a dirt track race for good measure.
The Bristol dirt race, scheduled for March 28, marks the first NASCAR Cup Series race held on dirt since Richard Petty won the 1970 Home State 200 at the State Fairground Speedway in Raleigh, North Carolina. Bristol will also hold a playoff race on pavement on September 18.
"Bristol Motor Speedway has hosted many historic events over the years and we will be adding to that resume," said Jerry Caldwell, general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. "We can't wait to see how the stars of NASCAR take to the dirt."
Coming in 2021 - IT'S DIRT BABY!
— Bristol Motor Speedway (@BMSupdates) September 30, 2020
Other big changes to the Cup Series schedule includes races at Nashville Superspeedway -- a 1.33-mile oval in Lebanon, Tennessee -- on June 20, and Road America -- a historic 4.048-mile road circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, that last hosted the Cup Series in 1956 -- on July 4. There will also be a Cup race at Circuit of The Americas (COTA), a 3.426-mile road course in Austin, Texas that has hosted Formula 1 and IndyCar races in the past.
Along with the new track additions for next year, NASCAR dropped the Cup races at Chicagoland Speedway and Kentucky Speedway.
"We developed the 2021 schedule with one primary goal: Continue to take steps to create the most dynamic schedule possible for our fans," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer.
"Extensive collaboration between NASCAR, the race tracks, race teams and our broadcast partners allowed NASCAR to create what promises to be an exciting 2021 schedule of races."
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, NASCAR president Steve Phelps added that he was "cautiously optimistic that many of the objectives that we would have had in a pre-COVID world, we will have during our 2021 season." In other words, hopefully we can expect a return to normalcy for next season.
2021 NASCAR Cup Series Schedule
Feb. 14 -- Daytona International Speedway, Daytona 500
Feb. 21 -- Homestead-Miami Speedway
Feb. 28 -- Auto Club Speedway
March 7 -- Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 14 -- Phoenix Raceway
March 21 -- Atlanta Motor Speedway
March 28 -- Bristol Motor Speedway
April 10 -- Martinsville Speedway
April 18 -- Richmond Raceway
April 25 -- Talladega Superspeedway
May 2 -- Kansas Speedway
May 9 -- Darlington Raceway
May 16 -- Dover International Speedway
May 23 -- Circuit of The Americas
May 30 -- Charlotte Motor Speedway
June 6 -- Sonoma Raceway
June 13 -- Texas Motor Speedway, All-Star Race
June 20 -- Nashville Superspeedway
June 26-27 -- Pocono Raceway doubleheader
July 4 -- Road America
July 11 -- Atlanta Motor Speedway
July 18 -- New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Aug. 8 -- Watkins Glen International
Aug. 15 -- Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
Aug. 22 -- Michigan International Speedway
Aug. 28 -- Daytona International Speedway
Sept. 5 -- Darlington Raceway
Sept. 11 -- Richmond Raceway
Sept. 18 -- Bristol Motor Speedway
Sept. 26 -- Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Oct. 3 -- Talladega Superspeedway
Oct. 10 -- Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval
Oct. 17 -- Texas Motor Speedway
Oct. 24 -- Kansas Speedway
Oct. 31 -- Martinsville Speedway
Nov. 7 -- Phoenix Raceway