NASCAR to release 2017 schedule later this week

By Jerry Jordan, Editor

CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR will hold a meeting Thursday at Kansas Speedway involving members of the media, track officials and others to unveil the 2017 Cup Series schedule, sources have confirmed.

The schedule’s release, which is the earliest in recent history, is expected to include a few shifts in where race dates fall on the calendar, the source said. So far, looking at the calendar and comparing the schedule from 2016 to 2017, the most notable change could be a return of the race at Dover International Speedway to a date after the Coca-Cola 600. Otherwise, there would be no off-weekend before June.

Although some tracks have already released information on when they will host next year’s NASCAR events others have not. For example, Daytona International Speedway, which will hold the season-opener Daytona 500 on Feb. 26, 2017, is a week later on the calendar next year than it was in 2016. That will affect when teams get an off-weekend following the West Coast Swing. Additionally, some tracks have requested race date changes in the past in hopes of boosting attendance.

In 2015, Ed Clark submitted a request to move the Atlanta Motor Speedway race from its spot a week after the Daytona 500. AMS remained on the schedule in 2016 as the second race of the season. When asked if he had requested a change for next year, he said he left that decision up to his bosses at Speedway Motorsports Inc.

A review of the AMS Web site shows the QuickTrip Folds of Honor 500 will again be the second race of the season in 2017. It is slated for March 5 at 1 p.m. EST.

Seven days later, NASCAR will head west for the first stop of the West Coast Swing when the sport descends on Las Vegas for the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 12.

Over the past few years, the series has headed to Phoenix International Raceway following the stop in Las Vegas but the track’s Web site lists the race date for the Good Sam 500 as “TBD.” However, travel packages are available for March 19 to Phoenix and news reports by some California media outlets have the Auto Club 400 returning as the fifth race of the season, on March 26, 2017.

Working backwards the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway – traditionally held on the Sunday before Memorial Day – would be on May 28, 2017. It can also be presumed the All-Star Race should be held the week before, on May 20.

Reviewing the races run in the Spring of 2016, that leaves six weeks between Martinsville and the All Star event to run races at – Texas, Bristol, Richmond, Talladega, Kansas and Dover – allowing for no off-weekends, including Easter – from the Daytona 500 through the Coca-Cola 600.

Because that is not feasible, it is believed that Dover, which moved to a week before the events at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2016, will move back to its traditional spot on the schedule in 2017, which is the week after the Coca-Cola 600 and feeds into the race at Pocono Raceway. That will allow teams to have Easter off.

From there the schedule gets pretty dicey because it becomes harder to predict when events will take place at each track. However, one can be safe in assuming that Daytona International Speedway will hold its second race in 2017 over the July 4th Weekend and Darlington Raceway will hold the Southern 500 on Labor Day. It can also be presumed that Homestead-Miami Speedway will host the final race of the season on Nov. 19, 2017.

Kickin’ the Tires will update this information as more information becomes available will post an official schedule following its release, on Thursday.

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