NASCAR announces 2012 Sprint Cup schedule

NASCAR released its 2012 schedule for the Sprint Cup Series on Wednesday and several changes have been made.

The Daytona 500, the opening race of the season, will start a week later than normal with the match set for February 26. The move was made earlier in the year after NASCAR wanted to avoid a potential scheduling conflict with the Super Bowl of the National Football League. The preseason "shootout", which is a non-points event, will take place on February 18 at Daytona.

"We believe the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule will once again provide fans with what they've come to expect every season, the world's most exciting and competitive form of motorsports," said NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France. "Next year's schedule has a few adjustments that we think will be good for the fans and good for the overall flow of the season. One thing will remain constant, however, and that's the intense competition we see week in and week out from our drivers and race teams."

In addition, the Phoenix and Las Vegas races have been moved up one week to March 4 and March 11, respectively.

The Easter Break week will take place the week of April 8, with Martinsville on April 1 and Texas on April 14.

The Sprint All-Star Race will take place on May 19 at Charlotte Motor Speedway while Daytona's summer race will be on July 7 after swapping weekends with Kentucky Speedway, which will host a race on June 30.

Races in the Chase for the Spring Cup have also changed as Talladega will be the fourth race after having its event moved up two weeks to October 7.

Kansas Speedway moves its playoff date back to October 21 to be the sixth race in the Chase. Also, due to a repaving, Kansas will be the eighth race of the regular season on April 22.

Talladega's spring run will be on May 6 while Dover International Speedway's spring race returns to its normal spot on June 3.

FOX will broadcast the first 13 events of the season while TNT will have the next six. ESPN/ABC will air the final 17 events.

NASCAR Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series dates will be announced at a later date with times for the Sprint Cup races also to be announced later.