NASCAR confirms Cup Series schedule change at New Hampshire

NASCAR has moved up the start time for Sunday afternoon's Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Will the change pay off?
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages

Last year's NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was contested in mid-July, and as a result of rain, it had to be pushed back from Sunday afternoon to Monday afternoon.

This year's USA Today 301 at the four-turn, 1.058-mile (1.703-kilometer) "Magic Mile" oval in Loudon, New Hampshire is scheduled to take place three weeks prior, and it also faces the possibility of being postponed until Monday due to wet weather.

There have already been a number of changes made to the weekend schedule at the track, including the cancellation of qualifying. The starting lineup for the 301-lap was set by the metric (full explanation here), meaning that Hendrick Motorsports' Chase Elliott is set to start from the pole position behind the wheel of his No. 9 Chevrolet.

A full starting lineup can be found here.

NASCAR changes Sunday's New Hampshire Cup Series schedule

According to The Weather Channel, Sunday afternoon's weather forecast is far from ideal, with a 90% chance of strong thunderstorms throughout the day.

As a result of the predicted inclement weather, NASCAR has moved up the start time of Sunday afternoon's race, adding about a half an hour of extra flexibility when it comes to potentially getting the race in as scheduled.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway is one of a number of tracks on the Cup Series schedule that does not have lights.

The USA Today 301 was originally scheduled to go green at 2:35 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon, with live coverage set to be provided by USA Network. The scheduled start time has now been moved up by 29 minutes to 2:06 p.m. ET, with USA Network still set to air the event.

A race must reach the end of stage two or half distance, whichever comes first, to be classified as official. With Sunday's race being scheduled for 301 laps and stage two set to end after lap 185, the race is set to be deemed official after 151 circuits.

Whether or not this schedule change actually ends up meaning anything remains to be seen. Given the weather forecast, a 29-minute start time move-up may or may not affect the ability (or lack thereof) of the series to get the race in on Sunday. Scattered thunderstorms are expected to begin at around 2:00 p.m. ET and last well into the evening.

Monday's forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and only a 20% chance of precipitation, meaning that the Loudon venue could very well hold a weekday race for the second consecutive summer.

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Regardless of when the USA Today 301 takes place, start a free trial of FuboTV now and don't miss USA Network's live coverage! Joe Gibbs Racing's Martin Truex Jr. is the reigning race winner, and he has not found victory lane since his New Hampshire Motor Speedway win over 11 months ago.