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NASCAR planning potential schedule changes years in advance

Sitting down with his strategy group this year, NASCAR executive Ben Kennedy challenged his colleagues to put together a mock schedule for the year 2031 as a roadmap for the future.

During a recent interview with Sports Business Journal, Kennedy declined to share the exact specifics of the mock 2031 slate. But its mere existence, which the senior vice president of strategy and innovation revealed publicly for the first time, shows just how long into the future NASCAR is starting to think about where it will race.

NASCAR has largely raced at many of the same tracks every year for decades. But with track operators International Speedway Corp. (owned by NASCAR) and Speedway Motorsports now private and able to operate more freely, and with NASCAR’s leadership cognizant of the need to shake up the schedule to inject excitement into the sport, the series appears primed for more major changes.

After being locked into five-year track sanction agreements with the same venues from 2016 through 2020, NASCAR started revising its schedule this year, adding a dirt race at Bristol and new events at Circuit of the Americas and Road America. That’s set to continue next year with three major moves: A bold concept to build a temporary short track at Los Angeles Coliseum for the season-opening exhibition race; a new Cup Series race in the St. Louis market at World Wide Technology Raceway; and a new Xfinity Series race in Portland that will mark the sport’s return to the Pacific Northwest for the first time in two decades.

Sports Business Journal — (subscription required)