JOLIET, Ill. — In advance of Wednesday’s expected release of next year’s NASCAR Cup Series schedule, it has been learned that Chicagoland Speedway and Kentucky Speedway will not host races for the series.
Chicagoland Speedway has been a part of NASCAR’s schedule since 2001, when it hosted its first NASCAR Cup Series event. The 1.5-mile track, which is owned by NASCAR, has hosted 19 NASCAR Cup Series events during that time, with this year’s race scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials from Chicagoland Speedway have confirmed the venue will not appear on any NASCAR schedule next season via a statement posted to the track’s website.
“With the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule unveiling, came the unfortunate news that Chicagoland Speedway will not be part of that lineup,” Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway President Scott Paddock said in the statement. “In addition, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Gander Trucks and ARCA will also not be returning to Chicagoland Speedway in 2021.
“The move away from NASCAR racing at Chicagoland Speedway is one of many changes reflected in the 2021 schedule and by no means a reflection of the support our fans have demonstrated. Rather, it is a desire and an important step for the industry to incorporate new markets and new courses into the schedule, and expand the variety of competition.
“All of our fans have exhibited a tremendous amount of allegiance and patience over the past year, during which time we all have experienced significant challenges. While we share your disappointment around this news, we truly appreciate and value your commitment to the sport and to the track.
“Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway has been a central member of the Joliet/Greater Chicagoland area for 20 years and we will continue to operate as an integral part of our community.
“As far as NASCAR racing at the Chicagoland Speedway, it’s difficult at this time to speculate on what 2022 might bring. We will continue to work with NASCAR on potential future opportunities beyond 2021 and will keep you updated.”
The removal of Chicagoland Speedway from the NASCAR calendar is one of several major changes expected when NASCAR releases its schedule on Wednesday. NASCAR officials also confirmed to multiple media outlets that Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky., will also not host NASCAR’s top division in 2021.
“Of course, we’re disappointed the Bluegrass State is not on NASCAR’s schedule for 2021, as the past two decades have been filled with memorable moments that will last a lifetime,” said Mark Simendinger, executive vice president and general manager of Kentucky Speedway. “This has been a tough year for so many, but there are still wild adventures ahead. We will evolve into a multi-use rental complex and also seek additional entrepreneurial prospects. Kentucky Speedway is open for business, and we have the potential to host special events, commercial television production, music festivals, other racing series and stand-alone RV rallies and camping events. Change is sometimes hard, but I’m looking forward to the many opportunities that lie ahead for our facility.”
Kentucky Speedway is a more recent addition to the NASCAR Cup Series calendar, joining the schedule in 2011 after it was acquired by Speedway Motorsports Inc. Prior to that the venue hosted the NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, NTT IndyCar Series and ARCA Menards Series dating back to 2000.
The 1.5-mile speedway has hosted the NASCAR Cup Series 10 times, with Cole Custer winning the most recent Cup Series race at the track on July 12.
The removal of Kentucky and Chicagoland from the 2021 schedule means Speedway Motorsports Inc. and NASCAR, the owners of most of the venues on the NASCAR calendar, are each moving at least one race to other venues.
In addition to NASCAR’s departure from Chicagoland Speedway, Paddock also confirmed that Route 66 Raceway will not host any drag racing events next year. Route 66 Raceway had been scheduled to host the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series this year, but that event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Finally, due to the corresponding impact on the shared resources between Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway, and the future uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Route 66 Raceway will unfortunately not be hosting drag racing events in 2021,” Paddock said.