NASCAR announces updated schedule, starting lineup for Darlington

Set to return on Sunday, NASCAR updated their series schedule through late June. The slate includes visits to Bristol and Talladega.

As NASCAR inches closer toward returning, its front office announced its moves beyond May.

NASCAR unveiled a schedule update on Thursday afternoon, with each of its three national series set to continue action into late June. This second stage of revival will come after NASCAR completes a series of seven races over eleven days at Darlington and Charlotte Motor Speedway. The premiere Cup Series division is set to make its return from the COVID-19 pandemic pause on Sunday afternoon with the Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox).



“As we prepare for our return to racing at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, the industry has been diligent in building the return-to-racing schedule,” NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said in a statement. “We are eager to expand our schedule while continuing to work closely with the local governments in each of the areas we will visit. We thank the many government officials for their guidance, as we share the same goal in our return – the safety for our competitors and the communities in which we race.”

The racing body has remained committed to running every race amongst its three national levels in the wake of the pandemic. Darlington and Charlotte are each set to host a pair of Cup races over the next two weeks, while the “minor league” Xfinity Series will run a single race at the respective tracks. Another lower-tier set, the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, will return on May 26 at Charlotte. The Cup Series has 32 races remaining on its slate, having run the first four prior to the virus-induced hiatus.

Under this new schedule, the series will descend upon tracks at Bristol, Atlanta, Martinsville, Miami, and Talladega. Much like the events at Darlington and Charlotte, these events will be run without spectators. In accordance with the new schedule, events in Kansas, Michigan, and Mid-Ohio were postponed and those at Iowa Speedway were canceled. The June visit to Talladega also sets up a return for the top division Automobile Racing Club of America, another lower-tier was bought out by NASCAR in 2018.

In addition to the schedule news, NASCAR also unveiled the starting lineup for the first race of the revival. Drivers were chosen at random in tiers based on their spot in the car owners’ standings. For example, the top dozen were assigned the top twelve positions, followed by those in the 13th through 24th-place slots. NASCAR has eschewed qualifying as it returns to action, but an exception will be made for the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on May 24.

Brad Keselowski was the lucky winner of Sunday’s pole position, meaning he will start first at the Real Heroes 400. The driver of Roger Penske’s No. 2 Ford is currently tied for eighth with Matt DiBenedetto in the points standings. He has finished no worse than 15th in each of his last five Darlington Cup events, which includes a win at the 2018 Bojangles’ Southern 500. Alex Bowman will start alongside him in the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

Other notables in the Darlington field include Matt Kenseth at 12th. The 2003 Cup Series champion will be making his first start since November 2018 in place of the disgraced Kyle Larson in the No. 42 Chevrolet. Meanwhile, Ryan Newman will start 21st in his first start in the No. 6 Ford since missing three races with injuries sustained in a scary crash at the end of February’s Daytona 500. Points leader Kevin Harvick will start in the sixth position.

For the full starting lineup, click here.

Updated NASCAR Schedule
Series Date Location Time (ET) TV
Cup May 17 Darlington 3:30 p.m. Fox
Xftinity May 19 Darlington 8:00 p.m. FS1
Cup May 20 Darlington 7:30 p.m. FS1
Cup May 24 Charlotte 6:00 p.m. Fox
Xfinity May 25 Charlotte 7:30 p.m. FS1
Truck May 26 Charlotte 8:00 p.m. FS1
Cup May 27 Charlotte 8:00 p.m. FS1
Xfinity May 30 Bristol 3:30 p.m. FS1
Cup May 31 Bristol 3:30 p.m. FS1
Truck June 6 Atlanta 1:00 p.m. FS1
Xfinity June 6 Atlanta 4:30 p.m. Fox
Cup June 7 Atlanta 3:00 p.m. Fox
Cup June 10 Martinsville 7:00 p.m. FS1
Truck June 13 Homestead-Miami 12:30 p.m. FS1
Xfinity June 13 Homestead-Miami 3:30 p.m. Fox
Xfinity June 14 Homestead-Miami 12:00 p.m. FS1
Cup June 14 Homestead-Miami 3:30 p.m. Fox
ARCA June 20 Talladega 2:00 p.m. FS1
Xfinity June 20 Talladega 5:30 p.m. FS1
Cup June 21 Talladega 3:00 p.m. Fox

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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