When NASCAR chairman Brian France said recently that he expected only minor changes to the 2015 Sprint Cup schedule, fans and media immediately began speculating on what those tweaks might be.
There may not be wholesale changes, based upon what France said, but next year’s Cup slate will look at least a little different. Based upon various sources and things we’ve heard and/or read, we’re going to chime in with our ideas and why we think that way. Granted, this is all speculation, but there’s a good likelihood of at least some of these guesses happening.
First off, we expect Darlington to become the second race of the season, one week after the season-opening Daytona 500. We’ve heard a number of rumors on this and, frankly, it makes sense.
Darlington’s weather in late February is typically in the 60s, sometimes in the 70s. While we would prefer to see The Lady In Black go back to her long-traditional Labor Day weekend slot, or even the Mother’s Day weekend slot, we think this could be a good place on the schedule for the Track Too Tough to Tame.
If that happens, look for the next several races to be pushed back at least a week, which should be a big boon weather-wise for places like Bristol and Texas, that often are affected by cold temperatures and inclement weather early in the season.
And, if Darlington does take Phoenix’ usual spot as the No. 2 race of the season, we’ve heard a couple of different angles about what happens to the early season race in the Valley of the Sun.
The first rumor we heard was that Phoenix will follow Darlington, essentially being pushed back a week, and then have Las Vegas follow the next week, as has been the case for the last several years.
If that happens, we’d likely see Bristol pushed back to the last week of March, Fontana to the first weekend of April and Texas pushed back to the second weekend of April.
Here’s what we think the early season schedule may look like: Daytona, Darlington, Las Vegas, Bristol, Fontana, Phoenix, Martinsville and Texas, taking us into the middle of April, before the first of three scheduled off-weekends would occur.
There’s also a slight variable that could happen: Daytona, Darlington, Las Vegas, Fontana, Bristol, Martinsville, Phoenix and Texas or Texas and then Phoenix.
To cluster Las Vegas and Fontana, and then Phoenix and Texas (or vice-versa) would make a great deal of sense geographically and expense-wise for teams.
As for the rest of the season, rumors have flown for the last several years that the Brickyard 400 would become the kickoff race to the Chase for the Sprint Cup in September, and that Chicagoland would move from its current spot as Chase opener to a mid-to-late July Saturday night race, essentially flip-flopping dates with Indy.
Could those rumors finally come true in 2015?
We’ll find out when NASCAR officially releases the schedule, expected to occur sometime in late September. Again, everything is speculation at this point, but it should be interesting to see which guesses and rumors actually prove to be true in the long run.
Follow me @JerryBonkowski