2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule released

Jonathan Ferrey

With minimal change, NASCAR released the 2014 Sprint Cup Series schedule on Tuesday.

NASCAR has released its 2014 Sprint Cup schedule and with slight variations, it's not all that different from the 2013 version.

The most notable change is an already announced swap of the Darlington and Kansas dates: Darlington will move to April 12 with Kansas now a Saturday night race held May 10 (Mother's Day weekend). This change was made to accommodate Kansas, which recently installed lights and has long sought a night race.

The only other change to the 2014 schedule sees Texas shift its annual April race from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon to avoid a conflict with the NCAA men's basketball Final Four held the same weekend in nearby Arlington, Texas.

Prior to Tuesday's announcement, there were rumblings that NASCAR was looking to shake up a schedule which some felt had become monotonous. There has long been a clamoring among fans and drivers alike for a road course to be added to the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup or to see different tracks rotated in.

Although those changes did not occur for 2014, Steve O' Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, hinted that an overhaul could happen next year when the '15 schedule is unveiled. This would coincide with NASCAR beginning its new television contract with NBC Sports, which replaces ESPN and TNT, to broadcast the second half of the Cup schedule.

"We're certainly going to take a look at it," O'Donnell said. "I think the timing with the new TV partners makes sense. One thing to keep in mind, though, is with each of the tracks, if we constantly are shifting dates, it becomes more and more of a challenge for each track. Our fans like some of the familiarity. We want to balance that.

"But it's certainly something to look at as we head into that year for sure."

As for those who would like to see the inclusion of more short tracks and road courses within the 36-race schedule, O'Donnell stressed NASCAR is currently happy with the diversity of its schedule for its premier series.

"I know fans have talked about a road course in the Chase," he said. "We'd never rule that out, (but) under our current schedule, that's very challenging for us to do. If you asked both of those road courses, I think they have a pretty successful thing going on right now. We're very happy with where those dates fall as well.

"It's something that we're taking a bigger look at every year. I think that we're more open than we've ever been to looking at those things."

NASCAR also announced it will make Air Titan, its track-drying system which reduces the time it takes to dry a track in case of rain, available to use at all races in 2014.

Previously, tracks had the option of paying to use the apparatus, but the expense deterred many from doing so. This year's opening Chase event at Chicagoland Speedway endured a five-hour delay because of rain, and Air Titan was not present to speed up the drying process.

"We're taking it upon ourselves to have it at every race," O'Donnell said. "In 2014, NASCAR is going to take over that role entirely and have it at every event.

"We think it's the right thing to do for the fans. We feel we're really in a good position in terms of the technology that's been advanced through the R&D center. We look forward to showcasing that, hopefully minimally, because we'd like to see the sun shine for each of our events."

2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule

Date

Race

TV

Feb. 15

Daytona International Speedway (Sprint Unlimited)

FOX Sports1

Feb. 20

Daytona International Speedway (Duels)

FOX Sports 1

Feb. 23

Daytona International Speedway (Daytona 500)

FOX

March 2

Phoenix International Raceway

FOX

March 9

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

FOX

March 16

Bristol Motor Speedway

FOX

March 23

Auto Club Speedway

FOX

March 30

Martinsville Speedway

FOX

April 6

Texas Motor Speedway

FOX

April 12

Darlington Raceway

FOX

April 26

Richmond International Raceway

FOX

May 4

Talladega Superspeedway

FOX

May 10

Kansas Speedway

FOX

May 17

Charlotte Motor Speedway (NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race)

FOX Sports 1

May 25

Charlotte Motor Speedway

FOX

June 1

Dover International Speedway

FOX

June 8

Pocono Raceway

TNT

June 15

Michigan International Speedway

TNT

June 22

Sonoma Raceway

TNT

June 28

Kentucky Speedway

TNT

July 5

Daytona International Speedway

TNT

July 13

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

TNT

July 27

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

ESPN

Aug. 3

Pocono Raceway

ESPN

Aug. 10

Watkins Glen International

ESPN

Aug. 17

Michigan International Speedway

ESPN

Aug. 23

Bristol Motor Speedway

ABC

Aug. 31

Atlanta Motor Speedway

ESPN

Sept. 6

Richmond International Raceway

ABC

Sept. 14

Chicagoland Speedway

ESPN

Sept. 21

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

ESPN

Sept. 28

Dover International Speedway

ESPN

Oct. 5

Kansas Speedway

ESPN

Oct. 11

Charlotte Motor Speedway

ABC

Oct. 19

Talladega Superspeedway

ESPN

Oct. 26

Martinsville Speedway

ESPN

Nov. 2

Texas Motor Speedway

ESPN

Nov. 9

Phoenix International Raceway

ESPN

Nov. 16

Homestead-Miami Speedway

ESPN

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