Which NASCAR Races Will Have Practice and Qualifying Sessions for the 2021 Season?

Published 01/08/2021, 5:00 AM EST
TALLADEGA, AL – OCTOBER 25: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)


Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic seriously derailed a number of sports. NASCAR was one of many that were affected, and the sport was forced to make compromises. One of them involved scrapping practice and qualifying for every race and having the sport improvise to decide positions.

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Now, the same thing is set to take place once again in the 2021 season. However, it won’t be completely abolished, as at least eight races will be granted the privilege of hosting practice and qualifying.

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This is exclusive to the Daytona 500, the Coke 600, and the Phoenix finale. In addition to that, the five “new” tracks will also witness practice and qualifying. In other words, the likes of the Bristol dirt, COTA, Road America, Nashville, and the Indy road course will be exceptions to the no practice rule.

The remaining NASCAR races will run like last year

Unfortunately, the remaining races do not have that kind of luxury. Instead, the status quo of no practice or qualifying remains the same for them.

Some would suggest that marquee races like the Daytona 500 and Coke 600 need such preparation due to their status. In the case of the new tracks, practice and qualifying are necessary because of their novelty. In other words, the drivers are pretty much stepping into the unknown with these new venues.

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DAYTONA BEACH, FL – JULY 01: Aric Almirola, driver of the #98 Fresh From Florida Ford, celebrates with a burnout and the checkered flag after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway on July 1, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Owing to this, there is a need to acclimate themselves to the unfamiliar tracks. NASCAR isn’t cruel to cut corners and throw its drivers into the deep end just like that.

Especially at tracks like the Circuit of the Americas, as none of the drivers have ever raced at the track in NASCAR vehicles. So, this is pretty much new territory for them and practice is absolutely vital.

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Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic is not something that can disappear overnight. Thus, the sport will have to tread very carefully for a long time.

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Dhruv George

11667 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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