NASCAR: The good news about the first 2021 cancellation

The cancellation of the Auto Club Speedway weekend is the first and hopefully the last for NASCAR in 2021. But NASCAR still plans to return to the two-mile Auto Club Speedway oval in 2022, despite initially planning to turn the track into a short track by then.

On Tuesday, NASCAR announced the cancellation of the Auto Club Speedway race weekend for 2021.

The Xfinity Series and Cup Series were scheduled to make their annual visit to the track at the end of February, with the former set to run on Saturday, February 27 and the latter set to follow on Sunday, February 28.

The move was made as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, fresh off a season that saw a 10-week hiatus caused by the pandemic, leading to multiple schedule changes, several cancellations, postponements, doubleheaders, midweek races and even a new venue to get the full 36-race season in.

Homestead-Miami Speedway is set to shift to this weekend from the previous weekend while the Daytona International Speedway road course is scheduled to move into Homestead-Miami Speedway’s initial slot (Saturday, February 20 for Xfinity Series and Sunday, February 21 for Cup Series).

The Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, scheduled for Friday, February 19, has been realigned to the Daytona International Speedway road course. The scheduled date has not changed.

For Fontana NASCAR fans, this news naturally came as a disappointment. But there is a silver lining.

The late February race weekend was scheduled to have been the final race weekend at the track before its reconfiguration.

The four-turn, 2.0-mile (3.219-kilometer) oval in Fontana, California native was slated to be reconfigured into a four-turn, 0.5-mile (0.805-kilometer) short track for 2022.

However, NASCAR has confirmed that this will not happen until after the 2022 race at the track at the earliest, meaning that the D-shaped oval is still slated to host one more Cup Series event.

The short track is effectively now on track to host its first race in 2023, although as 2020 showed us, plans can change on a whim.

On another note…

The addition of the Daytona International Speedway road course to the 36-race 2021 Cup Series schedule means that there are now seven road courses on the calendar, with the other six being Circuit of the Americas, Sonoma Raceway, Road America, Watkins Glen International, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

The schedules over the last few seasons had seen just three road courses, with just two on the 2020 schedule as a result of the pandemic.

The 2021 season is scheduled to get underway on Friday, February 12, Saturday, February 13 and Sunday, February 14 for the Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Cup Series, respectively, all at Daytona International Speedway.