When auto racing fans hear the term “Silly Season,” it usually refers to drivers and sponsors changing rides for the following season. As it comes time for NASCAR to release the 2011 Sprint Cup schedule, however, “Silly Season” also seems to be referring to the schedule. A number of new tracks, new races, and new dates appear to be on the horizon in the Sprint Cup Series – here are some of the changes we’ve seen so far.
Chicagoland Speedway – the Joliet, Illinois track will be hosting the first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup on September 18th. Chicagoland’s traditional date was early July.
Phoenix International Raceway – Phoenix will have the second race of the 2011 season, moved up from its usual date in April, as well as its traditional November race as part of the Chase – on November 13th in 2011.
Kansas Speedway – Kansas will host two Sprint Cup races for the first time – June 5th and October 9th as part of the Chase.
Las Vegas Speedway – Las Vegas will be hosting one race in 2011, on March 6th.
Kentucky Speedway – Kentucky will host its first-ever Sprint Cup race on July 9th, making it the first new facility added to the schedule since 2001, when Chicagoland and Kansas were added.
Infineon Raceway – the California road course has its date moved from Father’s Day to the final weekend of June, on the 26th.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway – while many thought NHMS would lose a date in 2011, the track has announced two NASCAR weekends, with Sprint Cup races on July 17th and September 25th; they also announced the return of the IndyCar Series on August 14th.
Bristol Motor Speedway – the Tennessee track announced two dates for the Sprint Cup Series – the traditional March date on the 20th and the August date moving back a week to the 27th.
Watkins Glen International – the New York road course finds its traditional date moved back one week, with the Sprint Cup stars on the course August 14th.
Martinsville Speedway – the Virginia track’s two race dates both will be a week later in 2011, with the first race April 3rd and the second stop on October 30th.
Michigan International Speedway – the two race dates announced are for June 19th – a return to its traditional Father’s Day date – and August 21st.
Atlanta Motor Speedway – one of NASCAR’s original Superspeedways, Atlanta will host just one Sprint Cup weekend in 2011, with the Sprint Cup Series on the track September 4th.
The 2011 Sprint Cup schedule is rumored to be announced in its entirety on August 18th.