NASCAR confirms eight Cup races with practice and qualifying for 2021

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 13: Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Valvoline Chevrolet, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Cup Series Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Friday NASCAR officials confirmed eight Cup Series races that will have practice and qualifying in 2021. In 2020, all the races beyond the first four were run without practice and qualifying something that had never been done on a regular basis in the past. Most NASCAR weekends include several practice sessions and a qualifying session over the course of several days, or at a minimum two days.

After the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sport last March, NASCAR developed procedures that allowed racing to resume on track even without fans in attendance. They instituted a bubble where only competitors and officials were allowed and streamlined the races to one day affairs with no practice or qualifying. With the pandemic still raging, most races, at least for the first part of 2021 will have only limited fans with the bubble still in effect.

While the one day shows last year were at tracks the sport has races at, this season includes several tracks the Cup series hasn’t raced on or have not raced on in the recent past. These tracks will have practice and qualifying as will those considered high profile races.

The eight races that will have practice and qualifying for 2021:

• Feb. 14: Daytona 500
• March 28: Bristol Motor Speedway dirt
• May 23: Circuit of the Americas
• May 30: Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway
• June 20: Nashville Superspeedway
• July 4: Road America
• Aug. 15: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
• Nov. 7: Phoenix Raceway

As for the other series, NASCAR officials said plans to potentially include practice and/or qualifying at NASCAR Xfinity Series or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events will be determined at a later date as will details on qualifying format and the amount of practice time and weekend schedules.

This past season starting lineups for events without qualifying were established first by a random draw among groups in national series standings. That format was replaced by a performance-metrics formula that combined season-long performance with the previous week’s results to determine the starting lineup. As for 2021, officials said the exact format for setting starting lineups at events without qualifying will be announced later.