Daytona Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - NASCAR officially released its 2014 Sprint Cup Series schedule on Tuesday, and as expected, there were a few minor changes made compared to this year's calendar.
For the 13th consecutive year, the schedule for NASCAR's premier series will include 36 points races, beginning with the Feb. 23 Daytona 500 and ending on Nov. 16 in Homestead, Fla. The preseason, non-points event at Daytona is scheduled for Feb. 15, and the all-star race is slated for May 17.
One significant change to next year's schedule is the swapping of dates for Kansas and Darlington in the spring. Kansas will hold its first Sprint Cup night race on Saturday, May 10. Darlington had its date on Mother's Day weekend since 2005 but has been moved to April 12 for next season. It will continue to be a Saturday night race.
Texas will run its spring race one week earlier and move from Saturday to Sunday (April 6). The NCAA Final Four men's basketball tournament is being held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas that weekend.
"As NASCAR has grown and becomes one of the real major sports in the world, we've got to take into consideration, as do other sports, what is in the marketplace that you're potentially competing with," Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's senior vice president of racing operations, said during a teleconference. "Television plays an important role when you look at going up against potentially the Masters or the Final Four. Any sport wouldn't want to do that, making those adjustments and working closely with the tracks."
The spring event at Martinsville will run on March 30, a week earlier than this year. Sprint Cup will take its first break of the season for Easter on the third weekend in April.
NASCAR also announced that its Air Titan track-drying system will be available at every Sprint Cup race weekend throughout the '14 season. The Air Titan significantly reduces the amount of time to dry the track in the event of inclement weather. It's been used at some tracks this season. Other tracks did not utilize it due to cost factors.
"We're taking it upon ourselves to have it at every race," O'Donnell said. "This year, some tracks chose to use it. In 2014, NASCAR is going to take over that role entirely and have it at every event."
O'Donnell noted that the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series schedules for next year could be released later this week.
"I think you could probably expect Nationwide as early as the end of this week," he said. "Truck possibly as well. We're 99 percent of the way there, wrapped up with both of those. Feel confident we'll have those out probably towards the end of this week."
2014 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES SCHEDULE
Feb. 15 Sprint Unlimited, Daytona International Speedway*
Feb. 23 Daytona International Speedway
March 2 Phoenix International Raceway
March 9 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 16 Bristol Motor Speedway
March 23 Auto Club Speedway
March 30 Martinsville Speedway
April 6 Texas Motor Speedway
April 12 Darlington Raceway
April 26 Richmond International Raceway
May 4 Talladega Superspeedway
May 10 Kansas Speedway
May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, Charlotte Motor Speedway*
May 25 Charlotte Motor Speedway
June 1 Dover International Speedway
June 8 Pocono Raceway
June 15 Michigan International Speedway
June 22 Sonoma Raceway
June 28 Kentucky Speedway
July 5 Daytona International Speedway
July 13 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
July 27 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Aug. 3 Pocono Raceway
Aug. 10 Watkins Glen International
Aug. 17 Michigan International Speedway
Aug. 23 Bristol Motor Speedway
Aug. 31 Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sept. 6 Richmond International Raceway
Sept. 14 Chicagoland Speedway
Sept. 21 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Sept. 28 Dover International Speedway
Oct. 5 Kansas Speedway
Oct. 11 Charlotte Motor Speedway
Oct. 19 Talladega Superspeedway
Oct. 26 Martinsville Speedway
Nov. 2 Texas Motor Speedway
Nov. 9 Phoenix International Raceway
Nov. 16 Homestead-Miami Speedway
* Denotes non-points event.