2021 NASCAR Panasonic Cup Series (Johnsonverse)
The 2021 NASCAR Panasonic Cup Series is the 73rd season for NASCAR professional stock car racing in the United States and the 50th season for the modern era Cup Series. The season started at the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. The race will be followed by the Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway, followed by the Gatorade Twin 125 qualifying races, and the 63rd running of the Daytona 500. Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas Racing enters this season as the defending champion.
Teams and drivers
|Aston Martin||Delma Cowart Racing||0||Noah Howe||DB11 Superleggera||Dunlop|
|Butch Jones Enterprises with Geoffrey Bodine||162||Clay Jones||Toyo|
|BMW||Team Ohio Racing||64||Kelly Walker||M4||Dunlop|
|Chevrolet||Hendrick Motorsports||5||Kyle Larson||Camaro||Goodyear|
|JTG Daugherty Racing||37||Ryan Preece||Malibu||Firestone|
|47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
|Richard Childress Racing||3||Austin Dillon||Camaro||Goodyear|
|Dale Earnhardt Inc.||8||Jeffrey Earnhardt||Camaro||Hoosier|
|Phoenix Racing||09||Scott Heckert||Malibu||Pirelli|
|Dodge||Team Penske||2||Brad Keselowski||Charger||Goodyear|
|Evernham Motorsports||93||Kasey Kahne||Charger||Hoosier|
|Chip Ganassi Racing||1||Kurt Busch||Challenger||Goodyear|
|Rusty Wallace Racing||102||Steve Wallace||Challenger||Cooper|
|Spire Motorsports||7||Corey LaJoie||Charger||Hoosier|
|76||Justin Haley (TBA)|
|Ford||Front Row Motorsports||34||Michael McDowell||Mustang||Michelin|
|36||Anthony Alfredo (R)|
|Roush Fenway Racing||6||Ryan Newman||Roush Mustang||Goodyear|
|Brown Hornet Racing||164||Hal Dixon||Mustang||Hoosier|
|Toyota||GMS Racing||83||Spencer Gallagher||Avalon||Dunlop|
|Joe Gibbs Racing||11||Denny Hamlin||Camry||Goodyear|
|19||Martin Truex Jr.|
|81||Christopher Bell (R)|
|Oldsmobile||Morgan-McClure Motorsports||04||Jimmy Weller III (R)||Cutlass||Toyo|
|Stavola Bros. Racing||08||Carl Maggio||Hoosier|
|Plymouth||Richard Petty Motorsports||43||Erik Jones||Road Runner (tracks shorter than one mile and road courses)
Superbird (tracks one mile and longer)
|Spinner-Marcis Auto Racing||171||Zack Brady||Falken|
|Pontiac||Stewart-Haas Racing||00||Chase Briscoe (R)||Grand Prix||Hoosier|
|14||Tony Stewart (C)|
|The Money Team Racing||46||Michael Annett||Firebird||Michelin|
|Live Fast Motorsports||75||BJ McLeod||Firebird||Goodyear|
|Go FAS Racing||32||Ryan Ellis||Grand Prix||Hoosier|
|Mercury||Wood Brothers Racing||21||Matt DiBenedetto||Cyclone||Goodyear|
|Studebaker||Del-War Inc.||172||Ray Black Jr.||Commander||Cooper|
|Geyser||Orange County Racing||86||Jed Thomas||Hawk||Pirelli|
|Honda||Doug Yates Racing||28||Elliott Sadler||Civic||Goodyear|
|Leavine Family Racing||95||Ryan Reed||Accord||Hoosier|
|Nissan||MAG Incorporated||58||Lyle White||Sentra||Michelin|
|Stash Motorsports||91||Bo Abraham||Hoosier|
|Buick||Bobby Allison Racing||12||Dakoda Armstrong||Regal||Michelin|
|Rossi Racing||50||BJ Fisher||Firestone|
|Rudd Performance Motorsports||110||Mike Murphy||Toyo|
|Cadillac||Red Tiger Motorsports with Sterling Marlin||170||Tracy Johnson||CT5-V||Dunlop|
|Parsons Motorsports||16||TJ Bell||Michelin|
|Lincoln||Rick Ware Racing||51||Joey Gase||Continental||Yokohama|
|Hedrick Racing||141||Dexter Bean||Pirelli|
|Audi||NY Racing Team||174||J.J. Yeley||A7||Hoosier|
|Marchesi Racing||176||Mark Marchesi||General Tire|
|Maserati||Cale Yarborough Racing||94||Simon Stevens||GranTurismo||Falken|
|Slick Poly Racing||69||Mike Maier||Michelin|
|Jaguar||Travis Carter Enterprises||23||Ben Rhodes||XE||Firestone|
|Ken Schrader Racing||52||Josh Berry||Goodyear|
|Porsche||Kenny Bernstein Racing||26||Harrison Rhodes||Boxster||Bridgestone|
|NEMCO Racing with Carl Long||187||John Hunter Nemechek||991||Yokohama|
|Hillman Racing||104||Landon Cassill||Boxter||Michelin|
|Volkswagen||23XI Racing||123||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Jetta GLI||Toyo|
|Kia||Junior Johnson Racing||27||James Davidson||Optima||Firestone|
|Labonte Bros. Racing||96||Justin Labonte||Pirelli|
|Hyundai||Robby Gordon Motorsports||07||Takuma Sato||Aslan||Bridgestone|
Spire Motorsports will expand into a two-car operation in 2021. On August 24, the team announced they are looking for two full-time drivers for next season.
After weeks of rumors, on September 21, 2020, it was officially announced that driver Denny Hamlin and basketball legend Michael Jordan would be forming a single car team, 23XI Racing, with Bubba Wallace as the driver. The manufacturer was confirmed as Volkswagen.
On October 7, 2020, Trackhouse Racing Team announced its entry into the Cup Series, fielding a single entry for Daniel Suárez in 2021. Co-owned by Justin Marks, the team will field DMC-13s.
On October 23, 2020, it was announced that B. J. McLeod and Matt Tifft will field the No. 75 full time in 2021. On November 20, McLeod and Tifft announced the team's name as Live Fast Motorsports, with a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing, meaning it will field Pontiacs instead of Fords.
- On August 6, 2020, Erik Jones and Joe Gibbs Racing announced that they would mutually part ways at the end of the 2020 season. This opened the door for Christopher Bell to take over the ride, and the official announcement of Bell being brought in-house at JGR to drive the No. 20 was made on August 10. On October 15, Adam Stern reported that Jones was in discussions with Richard Petty Motorsports will drive the No. 43 in 2021.
- On August 21, 2020, Corey LaJoie and Go Fas Racing announced that they would mutually part ways at the end of the 2020 season.
- On September 9, 2020, Matt Kenseth mentioned on Sirius XM's Late Shift that he would more than likely not return to the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 team in 2021. On September 21, 2020, Chip Ganassi Racing announced that Ross Chastain would replace Kenseth in 2021.
- On September 10, 2020, Bubba Wallace announced that he would not be back in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 in 2021. On September 21, it was made official that he would be the driver of the new team owned by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan.
- On September 15, 2020, Daniel Suárez announced that he would not be back in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 in 2021. On October 7, 2020, Suárez joined Trackhouse Racing Team full-time for the 2021 season.
- On October 6, 2020, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Alex Bowman will move from the No. 25 to the No. 48 team in 2021.
- On October 8, 2020, Team Penske announced that Austin Cindric will drive in select Cup Series races while competing full-time in the Busch Series in 2021. He will then transition to the Team Penske No. 77 team in 2022.
- On October 8, 2020, Clint Bowyer announced he would retire from full-time driving at the end of the 2020 season and work as a NASCAR on Fox commentator in 2021. His replacement in the Bobby Allison Racing No. 152 will be announced at a later date.
- On October 8, 2020, it was announced that Chase Briscoe would run for rookie of the year in a fifth Stewart-Haas Racing car, the #00.
- On October 19, 2020, NASCAR reinstated Kyle Larson six months after he was suspended from the sport and fired by Chip Ganassi Racing for using a racial slur during an iRacing event. He will be cleared to resume all NASCAR activities on January 1, 2021. On October 28, 2020, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Larson would drive the No. 5 for the team, replacing Alex Bowman, who moved over to the No. 48 to replace Jimmie Johnson.
- On November 8, 2020, Ryan Ellis announced he will drive full-time for Go Fas Racing in 2021.
- On September 29, 2020, it was announced that the crew chiefing career of Hendrick Motorsports' seven-time championship winning crew chief Chad Knaus would end after the 2020 season, as he would be promoted to Vice President of Competition for the team starting in 2021. His replacement on the No. 24 car of William Byron will be Rudy Fugle.
- On October 6, 2020, Hendrick Motorsports announced that No. 5 crew chief Greg Ives will join Alex Bowman in moving to the No. 48 team in 2021.
- On October 28, 2020, Cliff Daniels, formerly the crew chief for Jimmie Johnson on the No. 48, was announced to be crew chief for Kyle Larson in Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 car, switching teams with Ives.
- On October 30, 2020, 23XI Racing announced that Mike Wheeler will be the crew chief of the No. 23 with Bubba Wallace in 2021.
- On November 13, 2020, Trackhouse Racing Team announced that Travis Mack will be the crew chief for Daniel Suárez in the No. 99. Mack previously served as crew chief for Michael Annett in the JR Motorsports No. 1 team in the NASCAR Xfinity Series from 2019 to 2020.
ity Series from 2019 to 2020.
- DeLorean, Volkswagen, and Subaru have announced plans to enter into NASCAR, fielding the DMC-12 and DMC-13, the Jetta GLI, and the Legacy, respectively. Team Red Bull will return to NASCAR to field two DMC-12s, while Trackhouse Racing will field the DMC-13, and Phoenix Racing and 23XI Racing will field the Jetta GLI.
- On October 5, 2020, Go FAS Racing announced it would switch to
The 2021 Cup Series schedule was supposed to be released in the spring of 2020, but its release was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 schedule has been expected to see a number of significant changes, in large part due to the fact that the five-year contracts signed in 2015 with each track to host races from 2016 to 2020 will be ending. Some of the widely speculated changes to the schedule for 2021 include the addition of midweek races and doubleheaders, which would allow NASCAR to shorten the ten-month-long season. NASCAR had scheduled their first-ever doubleheader on the original 2020 schedule at Pocono, before COVID-19 resulted in Darlington, Charlotte, Pocono, Michigan, Dover, and Tokyo all gaining doubleheader weekends. NASCAR also had to schedule midweek races for the series for the first time in the modern era as a result of the COVID-19 schedule changes. NASCAR president Chloe Johnson stated on September 1, 2020 that the schedule may be released in pieces due to COVID-19 and the complications of which tracks would be able to host races due to state regulations and guidelines.
A * indicates a race that is part of the NASCAR Grand Prix Challenge. A # indicates a CompuServe 5 race.
|No.||Race name||Venue||Track Type||Date||TV|
|1||Dodge/SaveMart 350||Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma||Road Course||January 31||WBC|
|Busch Clash||Daytona International Speedway (Road Course), Daytona Beach||Road Course||February 9||FS1|
|Gatorade Twin 125's||Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach||Superspeedway (restricted)||February 11||FS1|
|2||Daytona 500 #||February 14||Fox
|3||New Smyrna Classic||New Smyrna Speedway, Samsula||Short Track||February 17||ESPN|
|4||Dixie Vodka 400||Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead||Intermediate||February 21||Fox|
|5||California Grand Prix *||Willow Springs International Motorsports Park, Rosamond||Road Course||February 28||WBCSN|
|6||Las Vegas Dirt Derby||Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track, Las Vegas||Short Dirt Oval||March 6||FS1|
|7||Pennzoil 400||Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas||Intermediate||March 7||Fox|
|8||FanShield 500||Phoenix Raceway, Avondale||Intermediate||March 14||Fox|
|9||Atlanta Grand Prix *||Road Atlanta, Braselton||Road Course||March 17||ESPN|
|10||PrimeStar 500||Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton||Intermediate||March 21||Fox|
|11||Food City Dirt Race||Bristol Motor Speedway (Dirt Course), Bristol||Short Dirt Oval||March 28||Fox|
|12||Bojangles 400||Knoxville Raceway, Knoxville||Short Dirt Oval||April 3||WBC|
|13||Mopar 500||South Boston Speedway, South Boston||Short Track||April 7||WBCSN|
|14||Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500||Martinsville Speedway, Ridgeway||Paperclip Short Track||April 10||FS1|
|15||Virginia Grand Prix*||Virginia International Raceway, Alton||Road Course||April 14||ESPN|
|16||Toyota Owners 400||Richmond Raceway, Richmond||Short Track||April 18||FS1|
|17||Hasbro 400||Huntsville Speedway, Huntsville||Short Track||April 21||WBCSN|
|18||Geico 500 #||Talladega Superspeedway, Lincoln||Superspeedway (restricted)||April 25||WBC|
|19||Carolina Dodge Dealers 500||Bowman Gray Stadium, Winston-Salem||Short Track||April 28||WBC|
|20||Chevron 400||Rockingham Speedway, Rockingham||Intermediate||May 2||WBC|
|21||TranSouth Financial 500||Darlington Raceway, Darlington||Egg-shaped Intermediate||May 9||Fox|
|22||Dog n Suds 500||Wall Stadium, Belmar||Short Track||May 12||ESPN|
|23||Drydene 400||Dover International Speedway, Dover||Intermediate||May 16||FS1|
|24||Kobalt Tools 500||Caraway Speedway, Ashboro||Short Track||May 19||WBCSN|
|25||First Union 400||North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro||Short Track||May 23||WBC|
|26||Coca-Cola World 600 #||Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord||Intermediate||May 30||WBC|
|27||Mountain Dew 400||The Milwaukee Mile, West Allis||Intermediate||June 2||FS1|
|28||Harley-Davidson 250||Road America, Lake Elkhart||Road Course||June 6||WBC|
|Panasonic Open||Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth||Short Track||June 12||FS1|
|29||EchoPark Texas Grand Prix *||Circuit of the Americas, Austin||Road Course||June 13||WBC|
|30||Ally 400||Nashville Superspeedway, Lebanon||Intermediate||June 20||Fox|
|31||QuikTrip Motegi 400||Twin Ring Motegi, Motegi||Intermediate||June 23||WBC|
|Tokyo Late Model Classic||Tokyo Superspeedway, Tama||Superspeedway (restricted)||June 24||WBC|
|32||Tokyo 500||June 26|
|33||Sony 500||June 27|
|34||Firecracker 400 at the Brickyard #||Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway||Superspeedway (unrestricted)||July 4||WBC|
|35||Oregon Grand Prix *||Portland International Speedway, Portland||Road Course||July 11||NBC|
|36||Foxwood Resort Casino 301||New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon||Intermediate||July 18||NBC|
|37||Go Bowling at the Glen||Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen||Road Course||August 8||WBC|
|Circuit City Summer Shootout||Metrolina Speedway, Charlotte||Short Clay Oval||August 14||ESPN|
|38||Susan G. Komen for the Cure 250||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Complex||Road Course||August 18||ESPN|
|39||World Wildlife Foundation 500||Lucas Oil Raceway, Brownsburg||Short Track||August 22||WBC|
|40||Consumer Energy 400||Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn||Superspeedway (unrestricted)||August 29||WBC|
|41||Tyson Holly Farms 400||North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro||Short Track||September 1||NBC|
|42||Greenville 500||Greenville-Pickens Speedway, Greenville||Short Track||September 5||NBC|
|43||Southern 500 #||Darlington Speedway, Darlington||Egg-Shaped Intermediate||September 9||WBC|
|44||Luca 400||Walt Disney World Speedway, Lake Buena Vista||Superspeedway (restricted)||September 15||WBC|
|45||Pennsylvania 500 by Howard Johnson's||Lincoln Speedway, Hanover||Short Track||September 19||WBCSN|
|46||Steam Powered Giraffe 400||Nazareth Speedway, Nazareth||Intermediate||September 22||WBC|
|47||Cadillac 400||Bowman Gray Stadium, Winston-Salem||Short Track||September 26||ESPN|
|48||ACDelco 400||Rockingham Speedway, Rockingham||Intermediate||September 29||NBC|
|49||YellaWood 500||Talladega Superspeedway, Lincoln||Superspeedway (restricted)||October 6||WBC|
|50||Tennessee Dodge Dealers 400||Memphis International Raceway, Millington||Short Track||October 10||TNN|
|51||Music City USA 420||Fairgrounds Speedway, Nashville||Short Track||October 13||TNN|
|52||Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500||Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth||Short Track||October 17||NBC|
|53||Texas 400||Texas World Speedway, College Station||Superspeedway (unrestricted)||October 21||NBC|
|54||Kansas Grand Prix *||Heartland Park Topeka, Topeka||Road Course||October 24||NBC|
|55||Utah Grand Prix *||Miller Motorsports Park, Tooele||Road Course||October 27||NBC|
|56||Hollywood Casino 400||Kansas Speedway, Kansas City||Intermediate||October 31||NBC|
|57||Iowa Corn 400||Iowa Speedway, Newton||Short Track||November 7||WBC|
|58||Doritos 400||World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Madison||Intermediate||November 10||NBC|
|59||General Tire 400||DuQuoin State Fairgrounds Racetrack, DuQuoin||Intermediate Dirt Oval||November 14||NBC|
|60||Camping World 400||Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet||Intermediate||November 17||NBC|
|61||Rush Truck Centers Presents the Eldora Dirt Classic||Eldora Speedway, New Weston||Short Dirt Oval||November 21||WBC|
|62||Pepsi 400||Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach||Superspeedway (restricted)||November 28||WBC|
- The most prominent change to the schedule is the permanent addition of mid-week races; as originally announced, the season was to have a whopping 78 races, beating the record held by the 62-race-long 1964 season, but on November 12, 2020, it was announced that the schedule would be reduced to 62 races, after weeks of talks with team owners regarding travel time and cost concerns, as well as talks with track owners regarding local COVID-19 restrictions; other options discussed included further cuts to midweek races and extending the schedule to end on the second Sunday of December, something that hadn't happened since 1971, the latter being rejected over weather concerns, specifically for fans, pit crew members, track and sport officials, and on-track personnel. Many of these tracks will instead be used in lower series and testing for the time being, depending on restrictions, though there is a possibility some or all of these tracks will be reinstated into the schedule when the pandemic is over, local COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, and travel and cost concerns are figured out; Tim estimates it won't be until 2023 at the earliest, though he stated that NASCAR is trying their hardest to be able to hold more races in the future, and has also floated bringing back tracks such as Chicago Motor Speedway, Riverside International Raceway, and Ontario Motor Speedway, which would be held in place of existing tracks on the schedule in odd or even-numbered years, in addition to the scrapped tracks. Notably, Hickory Motor Speedway was going to be reinserted into the schedule for the first time since 1971, while Greenville-Pickens was going to hold a second race.
- Kentucky, Brands Hatch, and Delaware will all be removed from the schedule. Kentucky will be removed due to Tim Johnson considering the track "without a doubt, the worst intermediate on the schedule, and unsalvageable short of completely tearing down the facility and starting from scratch"; Kentucky will still be used by the NASCAR Sears All-American Series and ARCA Menards Series, while Brands Hatch and Delaware will be removed due to travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, though there are plans to reincorporate them into the schedule once the pandemic is over and travel restrictions are lifted. Chicagoland was going to be removed as well before Johnson found out plans to raze the track to make way for a shopping complex and had them torpedoed.
- Atlanta Motor Speedway will be reconfigured back to its pre-1997 layout. CEO Tim Johnson stated that while he knew the drivers were accustomed to the old track pavement, he felt that it was leading to more boring racing, combined with its cookie-cutter layout similar to Charlotte Motor Speedway. As a compromise, the material used for the new pavement will be similar to the material used for the 1996-97 repave. Texas Motor Speedway will also be reconfigured as well; it will become a short track that is slightly wider than Bristol; this is similar to the planned reconfiguration of Auto Club Speedway into a short track for 2022 and beyond.
- Sonoma and Road America will swap spots on the schedule. Since the inaugural running of the Harley-Davidson 250, snow was always a concern, and during the 2015, 2018, and 2020 runnings, snow had to be cleared from the track and the infield areas so it could go forward. Swapping the races would not only allow Road America to be run in more favorable conditions, but it would also allow Sonoma to be run when the hills are green instead of brown.
- It has already been announced that the Busch Clash will be moved from the Sunday before the Daytona 500 to the Tuesday before (on February 9), in an effort to condense Speedweeks down to one week. The race will also be moved from the oval to the infield road course for the first time, after what Tim described as "the demolition derby of the 2020 running that made the ARCA guys look professional".
- Darlington, North Wilkesboro, and Rockingham will go back to having two dates, these being the spring dates for Darlington and North Wilkesboro, and the fall date for Rockingham. All three will run with historical race names (TranSouth Financial 500 for Darlington, First Union 400 for North Wilkesboro, and ACDelco 400 for Rockingham).
- In addition to the CompuServe 5, Panasonic Million, and Unocal 76 Challenge, the NASCAR Grand Prix Challenge will also be introduced, involving midweek road course races. The seven-race challenge will involve the races at Willow Springs, Road Atlanta, Virginia, COTA, Portland, Heartland Park, and Miller Motorsports Park. The winner of all seven races receives a $350,000 prize.
- The Cup Series will also race on dirt for the first time since 1970 as the spring race at Bristol Motor Speedway will see the concrete half-mile covered in dirt, and several other dirt tracks such as Eldora, Knoxville, DuQuoin, and Las Vegas' dirt course will be added. Mansfield and Davenport were on the original schedule, but were removed.
- The Geyser/SaveMart 350 will be rebranded to Dodge/SaveMart 350, its name between 2001 and 2006.
- On December 8, 2020, it was announced that Auto Club Speedway will not host a race in 2021 due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, and will be replaced by a race at New Smyrna Speedway (which was to host an event under the pre-November 12 schedule), which will swap dates with the Homestead–Miami Speedway race.
- WBCSN will broadcast Cup Series races for the first time, all of which will be mid-week races. ESPN will do the same, marking the first time since 2014 they will broadcast Cup races regularly (they had previously been airing qualifying sessions beforehand), as well as their first races overall since 2018.
|Race name||Venue||Track Type||Date||TV|
|Auto Club 400||Auto Club Speedway, Fontana||Superspeedway (unrestricted)||February 28||Fox|
|Lowe's 400||Tucson Speedway, Tucson||Short Track||March 10||ESPN|
|Bering Trucks 500||Motor Mile Speedway, Dublin||Short Track||March 24||ESPN|
|Liberty Mutual 500||Langley Speedway, Hampton||Short Track||March 31||FS1|
|McDonald's 500||Greenville-Pickens Speedway, Greenville||Short Track||May 5||WBCSN|
|Orange County Spring Classic||Orange County Speedway, Rougemont||Short Track||May 26||ESPN|
|Winchester 500||Winchester Speedway, Winchester||Short Track||June 30||WBCSN|
|NAPA Auto Parts 500||Evergreen Speedway, Monroe||Short Track||July 7||NBC|
|HP Hood Oxford 500||Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford||Short Track||July 14||NBC|
|Ohio Dirt Derby||Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, Mansfield||Short Dirt Oval||August 11||NBCSN|
|Nintendo 500||Hickory Motor Speedway, Hickory||Short Track||August 28||NBCSN|
|STP 500||Five Flags Speedway, Pensacola||Short Track||September 12||ESPN|
|Alabama Fall Classic||Montgomery Motor Speedway, Montgomery||Short Track||October 3||WBCSN|
|Iowa Dirt Derby||Davenport Speedway, Davenport||Short Dirt Oval||November 3||NBC|
|Coke Zero Sugar 400||Volusia Speedway Park, De Leon Springs||Short Track||November 24||WBCSN|
Round 1: Dodge/SaveMart 350
Chase Elliott started on the pole. This was the first time Sonoma Raceway has hosted a NASCAR race in January, as well as the first time the NASCAR season opener was held in California since 1986. After an eventful day, Elliott dominated and won the race.
In the Busch Clash, Ryan Blaney started on pole. Kevin Harvick spun twice early in the race. Martin Truex Jr. was leading when the competition caution came out but had to restart in the rear due to missing the final chicane while the race was under caution. Late in the race, Truex Jr. wrecked while leading. In the closing laps, Chase Elliott and Blaney were battling for the lead. In the final chicane on the last lap, Elliott and Blaney wrecked each other, which allowed Kyle Busch to pass and win the race.
In Daytona 500 qualifying, Alex Bowman won the pole while teammate William Byron qualified second. At the 125’s, Noah Howe held off Tony Stewart to win the first Duel. The start of the second Duel was delayed by rain. In the second Duel, there were multicar wrecks on lap 36 and with three laps to go in the race; the latter caution sent the race into an overtime finish. In overtime, Austin Dillon held off Bubba Wallace to win the second Duel.
Round 2: Daytona 500
Alex Bowman would start on pole, as the race was under threat from rain and thunderstorms. Amber Luckey would hit the wall on lap 4 to bring out the first caution while causing damage to Bubba Wallace. On lap 13, "The Big One" would strike in turn 3 as Aric Almirola and Bowman would get turned into the outside wall, collecting 16 cars and sending William Byron into a barrel-roll. Two laps later, the race was red-flagged for 5 hours and 40 minutes due to rain and lightning. Due to Fox not wanting to anger fans of Animation Domination, the remainder of the race was moved to WBC; because it was short-notice, Tim Johnson, Chloe Johnson, and Belle Armstrong, who were at the track, called the race, the first time they had called a non-Tokyo Cup race as themselves. The race would restart with Kevin Harvick as the leader. Defending winner Tony Stewart would dominate as Christopher Bell would lose a left-rear tire and spun collecting Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Jamie McMurray. The final stages would remain caution-free as Stewart, in contention to win the race for the third consecutive time, would pit from the lead on final pit stops, but would fall back to 13th as the pack got single file with Joey Logano leading. On the last lap, Brad Keselowski attempted to pass Logano on the backstretch, but the two would end up colliding creating a fiery crash sending Keselowski into the catchfence collecting Austin Cindric, Kyle Larson, Wallace, Logano, Kyle Busch, Ryan Preece, and Ross Chastain. Michael McDowell would dodge the last lap crash to win, his first-career win, as well as Front Row Motorsports' third win. Keselowski's crash ended up being a near-replay of Kasey Kahne's crash at the 2014 Coke Zero 400 that ended up killing eight fans in the stands, though fortunately, it happened in one of the turns, well away from any fans, and Keselowski's seat remain attached to the chassis. In the hours following the race, Dodge came under scrutiny for the fuel cell design on the Charger, as Chevrolet had with the Camaro's fuel cell design follow Kahne's crash. No announcement about the Charger being temporarily pulled from competition has been made. Tim Johnson was also sharply critical of the single-file racing of the closing laps, chalking it up to fear of making big moves after Ryan Newman's near-fatal crash the previous year, as well as the lap 13 crash that took out a large part of the field.
Round 3: New Smyrna Classic
Noah Howe started on the pole. This was the first regularly-scheduled midweek race on the Cup Series schedule since 1971, as well as the first-ever Cup Series race at New Smyrna Speedway. At lap 68, there was contact between Ty Dillon and David Stremme. Towards the end, Kyle Larson managed to take the lead from Macy Waltrip and win the race.
Round 4: Dixie Vodka 400
Chase Elliott will start on the pole.
|No.||Race||Pole Position||Most Laps Led||Winning Driver||Manufacturer/Model|
|1||Dodge/SaveMart 350||Chase Elliott||Chase Elliott||Chase Elliott||Chevrolet Camaro|
|Busch Clash||Ryan Blaney||Denny Hamlin||Kyle Busch||Toyota Camry|
|Gatorade Twin 125 Race 1||Alex Bowman||Tony Stewart||Noah Howe||Aston Martin DB11 Superleggera|
|Gatorade Twin 125 Race 2||William Byron||William Byron||Austin Dillon||Chevrolet Camaro|
|2||63rd Daytona 500||Alex Bowman||Tony Stewart||Michael McDowell||Ford Mustang|
|3||New Smyrna Classic||Noah Howe||Macy Waltrip||Kyle Larson||Chevrolet Camaro|
|4||Dixie Vodka 400||Chase Elliott||Chase Elliott||Christopher Bell||Toyota Camry|
|5||California Grand Prix||Brad Keselowski||Chase Elliott||Tony Stewart||Pontiac Grand Prix|