The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series schedule has only been available since September 15, but the sanctioning body is already planning on making some changes for 2023. President Steve Phelps has suggested that bold moves will take place and that there is a scenario where a NASCAR-owned track loses a race.
“If it doesn’t make sense to go to one of our tracks twice, and we only go once, or we go once now and it doesn’t make sense to go at all, we’re going to do that because we have to grow the sport,” Phelps said during the CAA World Congress of Sports on Tuesday, October 12, per Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal.
Phelps added that “it’s about exposing our sport to new audiences.” He mentioned that NASCAR “hit the bottom” in 2018 and that he knew the sport was going to grow again. Now Phelps sees opportunities to make big moves that will help build momentum and keep the sport growing in the future.
NASCAR Already Made Moves With the 2022 Schedules
Phelps suggested that more changes are on the way, but NASCAR already started shaking up the schedule in 2021 and into 2022. The current schedule already featured the first-ever dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the return of Nashville Superspeedway, a race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, and a trip to Circuit of the Americas in Texas.
The 2022 schedule brings back the Bristol dirt race and Nashville Superspeedway, but it also adds in an exhibition race at the LA Memorial Coliseum. The drivers will head to the home of the USC Trojans and compete on a quarter-mile short track. Once the regular season begins, they will plan for the first-ever Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway.
The Xfinity Series and Truck Series schedules will also feature some changes. Drivers such as Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, AJ Allmendinger, and Daniel Hemric will head to Portland International Raceway for the first time instead of making the annual trip to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The Truck Series drivers, on the other hand, will return to Lucas Oil Raceway for the first time since the 2011 season. They will kick off the playoffs at the fan-favorite short track in what will be a wild race weekend. Similarly, the Truck Series drivers will return to Sonoma Raceway for the first time since 1998 and will put the new body styles on display in wine country.
The third big change for the 2022 schedule features a track that the Xfinity Series left behind. The Truck Series will head to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the very first time, putting the drivers to the test on a 2.258-mile road course.
Phelps Also Addressed the Future of Engines in Motorsports
The schedule changes are not the only topics that Phelps addressed during the CAA World Congress of Sports. He also provided a look at how NASCAR teams will power their stock cars in future seasons.
Per Bob Pockrass, Phelps said that NASCAR will likely introduce some hybrid components to the Next Gen race cars for the 2024 season. The engines will have “an electrification component” that would provide power back to the systems under heavy braking.
NASCAR’s SVP for Racing Development John Probst spoke to Techcrunch in 2019 that the sanctioning body wanted to go “full hybrid” in the future but that they didn’t know where the balance is. He also explained that NASCAR would likely debut the hybrid systems at road courses such as Watkins Glen or the Charlotte Roval.
“Braking is typically used as a mechanism to get the power back into the batteries,” Probst told Techcrunch. “As far as when you actually apply the power. I think that that’s what we need to study…and work through with our OEMs on how it’s deployed.”
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