Each of NASCAR’s three national series has a separate regular-season schedule. Throughout the season, they each race at a combination of superspeedways, intermediate tracks, short tracks and road courses. From Florida to California, these weekend events take place all over the United States, and sometimes in Canada.
Aside from scheduled non-points paying exhibitions, usually occurring for the Cup Series during Daytona Speedweeks and the mid-season All-Star Race, each series kicks off its regular-season slate in February at Daytona International Speedway.
NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season:
- Twenty-six total races (usually on Sundays)
- Begins in February with the Daytona 500
- Other “Crown Jewel” races scattered throughout the season
- Drivers compete in the All-Star Race halfway through the regular season
- The regular-season champion is crowned after 26 races and awarded 15 points
Here is how each regular season is broken down:
The Cup Series most often races on Sundays with 26 races on the regular-season schedule, beginning each year of competition with the iconic Daytona 500. Scattered throughout the schedule are prestigious “Crown Jewels,” which are races that have been historically significant to the sport. In addition to the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway receive this designation.
Every season, the Coca-Cola 600 (often referred to as the Coke 600) is the longest race on the schedule. The 600-mile marathon puts driver’s stamina and team performance to the test. Nearly every other oval race lands anywhere between 300 and 500 miles in length.Around midway through the schedule, Cup Series drivers compete in the All-Star Race for a chance to take home a $1 million check. In this exclusive showcase, drivers who have either won a race during the season or previous season, have previously won an All-Star Race or have a Cup Series championship qualify to compete. Drivers who do not meet these criteria can choose to compete in the All-Star Open and race their way in via heats or earn the Fan Vote.
During the regular season, drivers earn points for their performance in races and can make the NASCAR Playoffs with enough points or a win.
At the conclusion of the 26 races in the regular season, a regular-season champion is crowned and awarded 15 additional points for the playoffs. Sixteen drivers advance to the playoffs.
Usually at the track on Saturdays, the Xfinity Series also has a 26-race schedule for its regular season. The Xfinity Series races at many of the same tracks as the Cup Series, usually during the same weekend with a few exceptions each year. Sometimes, being at the same location allows Cup Series drivers to compete in select Xfinity events to gain track experience before their race on Sunday.
Cup drivers earning series points are not allowed to compete in certain events designated under the Dash 4 Cash midseason program, the regular-season finale or playoffs. Cup drivers with three or more years of full-time experience in the premier series are limited to competing in only five races during the first 25 on the Xfinity schedule. During the Dash 4 Cash races, Xfinity Series regulars compete for financial rewards in a four-race stretch.
Like the premier series, drivers earn points throughout each race for stage positions and overall finish, allowing them to compete for spots in the playoffs.
At the conclusion of the 26 races in the regular season, a regular-season champion is crowned and awarded 15 additional points for the playoffs. Twelve drivers advance to the playoffs.
Craftsman Truck Series
The third national series is the Craftsman Truck Series, which operates each season under a lighter schedule than the top two – a 15-race regular-season calendar with primarily Friday night features. However, dispersed throughout these events are performance bonuses and incentives, such as the Triple Truck Challenge. Like the Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash, these challenges allow Truck Series regulars to compete for monetary incentives at various points throughout the season.
Cup and Xfinity drivers often compete in select Truck Series events during the season. However, Cup drivers earning points cannot compete in the Triple Truck Challenge races, the regular-season finale or playoffs. Cup drivers with three or more years of full-time experience in the premier series are limited to competing in only five races during the first 14 on the schedule.
Keeping up with the formatting trend, drivers are awarded points during the regular season for placement in stages and final finishing positions.
At the conclusion of the 15 races in the regular season, a regular-season champion is crowned and awarded 15 additional points for the playoffs. Ten drivers advance to the playoffs.