Included in the schedule are NASCAR on FOX's live coverage of the first eight NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES point races on FOX, six Cup Series point races on FOX Sports 1, the first 14 NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES races (four on FOX; 10 on FOX Sports 1) and the entire 23-race NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES season on the FOX family of networks (Talladega on FOX and 22 races on FOX Sports 1).
The most significant changes to the schedule include moving Atlanta from Labor Day Weekend to the second race of the season, including a companion Truck Series event; once again running the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on its traditional Labor Day Weekend date; creating a "West Coast Swing" in the early portion of the year; and pushing the spring Bristol race back a few weeks.
NASCAR on FOX analysts Jeff Hammond and Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip offer their perspective on the changes to next year's schedule:
ON OVERALL REACTION TO THE SCHEDULE CHANGES:
"We have abandoned some of our NASCAR traditions over the years, and some of our fans haven't been crazy about all those changes. So, I think many will be comforted to see some elements of the schedule returning to ‘normal.' Folks especially didn't like the Southern 500 moving away from Darlington, myself included, so I'm excited to see it return to its proper date, which also puts Atlanta back in the NASCAR on FOX portion of the year. Overall, everything NASCAR changed is for the better."
"I'm excited about a lot of the changes. I like Darlington going back to Labor Day where it belongs, and about Atlanta being moved up earlier in the year. That's more like it used to be for us. Back in the day, we went from Daytona to Rockingham or a place like Richmond, and now that we're going Daytona to Atlanta, it's going to be great for the fans, especially the ‘Snowbirds' who want to go from Daytona to Atlanta on their way back North."
ON THE SHIFT OF THE ATLANTA RACE FROM LABOR DAY WEEKEND TO THE SECOND RACE OF THE SEASON:
"I think I can speak for the entire NASCAR on FOX team in saying we're thrilled to get to call the Atlanta race again. That is one of the best races of the year and usually produces one of the best finishes, and it's one of my favorite ones to be in the booth for. I don't think anyone liked going from Daytona directly to the West Coast, and we all wanted a race closer to Daytona that second week. In turn, I couldn't be happier that NASCAR has returned tradition to the schedule by putting Darlington back on Labor Day Weekend where it belongs. That one shouldn't have ever have been moved."
ON THE "WEST COAST SWING" OF THREE CONSECUTIVE RACES:
"This is a fantastic idea. Teams might even be able to figure out how to save money with these three West Coast races grouped together. If fans can figure out how to hit all three tracks on consecutive weeks, it will be a bit like it used to be in the South when fans hit the short tracks of Bristol, North Wilkesboro and Martinsville on consecutive weekends. Fans might be able to do the same thing out West, and it will be great for them to have something like that to hang their hats on. They can plan destinations for a three-week trip, such as Vegas and then driving over to Phoenix and California, and in the process see some of the greatest drivers you'll ever see behind the wheel of a race car. If the tracks could come up with a ticket where fans buy a ticket to all three races, that would be ‘money.'"
"I love the fact they're grouping the West Coast races together in three consecutive weeks. I'm a firm believer in that being a positive. I've been pushing for a ‘West Coast swing' for a long time. I just wish that instead of leaving California and going to Martinsville and then back to Texas, we'd go from California and stop in Texas along the return home. If they'd put Texas between California and Martinsville, we could have had three short tracks in a row, which could provide some interesting continuity and synergy, as well as the opportunity to carry over feuds and retaliations from one track to the next. But overall, I love the changes."