People scanning sports channels most weekends throughout the year may come across a familiar sight: NASCAR races. It seems as if there is an endless stream of televised content, which may lead you to wonder just how many NASCAR races there are each season.
There are 36 points races in the NASCAR Cup Series season, but there are often 39 events in the Cup series in total per year. Add in the secondary NASCAR Xfinity Series and third-tier NASCAR Truck Series and there are 92 points races across NASCAR during the 2022 seasons.
As you can see, NASCAR stays busy and there is more to the season than the classic races. Below you’ll learn everything there is to know about a NASCAR season including some of the scheduling differences between the three series, how long each season lasts, and some historical context on all three.
How Long Is A NASCAR Season?
A NASCAR season lasts from mid-February to early November, making it the second-longest American sports season behind the PGA Tour. NASCAR drivers and team employees at the Cup Series level are active nearly nine months of the year with only two weekends off, but lower levels have more time off.
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season started with an exhibition race, The Busch Clash, on February 6. The first points-paying race occurred on February 20 at Daytona International Speedway. It concludes November 6 at Phoenix Raceway.
NASCAR only scheduled one idle weekend during the 2022 Cup Series season: Father’s Day weekend in June. Teams also have an off week between The Clash and the Daytona 500, when the season officially goes green.
Total Distance Raced
A fun exercise that adds context to a NASCAR season is looking at the total miles run during the year. The 2021 Cup Series season, not including exhibition races, totaled 12,600 miles. You could travel from Miami to Anchorage, Alaska and back without breaking 10,000 miles. The NASCAR Cup Series season is also a longer distance than two round trip journeys from New York City to Los Angeles.
Xfinity Series races in 2021 lasted a total of 7,434 miles. This is 200 miles longer than the distance between London and Honolulu, Hawaii. Finally, the Truck Series season raced 3,901 miles over its 2021 season. You arrive at 23,995 miles raced across NASCAR’s top three series in 2021 when adding together each total. This is less than 1,000 miles fewer than the Earth’s equatorial circumference.
How Many NASCAR Races Are There In A Season?
There are 36 points races in the NASCAR Cup Series season plus two exhibition races. The season officially opens with its most prestigious race, the Daytona 500, in mid-to-late February. The first 26 races are considered the regular season, followed by 10 playoff races to crown a champion.
NASCAR starts each season with an exhibition race in February, called The Clash, usually one or two weeks before the Daytona 500. The 2022 race was held at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a move away from its traditional spot at Daytona. There are also two 150-mile qualifying races for the Daytona 500, but they are not counted towards the official tally as only half the field competes in each one.
The Cup Series also has an All-Star Race in May. This is the second exhibition race on the schedule. Instead of competing for points, drivers compete for a $1 million first place prize. Different formats have existed throughout its history, but drivers now qualify for the race by being a playoff driver the previous season or by winning a race during the current season.
This is not an off week for the non-qualifiers, however. NASCAR holds a special qualifying event before the All-Star race where three more drivers earn All-Star berths, and all 36 chartered cars must compete. This format gives everyone an opportunity at a million bucks, but also provides no extra down time for weary racers and team members. The 2022 edition takes place at Texas Motor Speedway.
How Many Races Are There In The Xfinity Series?
There are now 33 races in the Xfinity Series, lower than the record-high 35 races held from 2005 to 2010. This series is NASCAR’s second-most prestigious, behind only the Cup Series. The 2022 season began February 19 in Daytona and will crown the final champion on November 5 in Phoenix.
The Xfinity Series has run 33 races every season since 2012, breaking from the record-high 35 races it held from 2005-2010. All but one of the Xfinity races are raced as part of a loaded race weekend with the Cup Series. The lone exception is a June 4 date at new addition Portland International Raceway. The Xfinity Series playoffs are held during the final seven races.
How Many Races Are There In The NASCAR Truck Series?
There are 23 races in the NASCAR Truck Series season, though the number can vary. This series is NASCAR’s third-highest racing tier. The 2022 season began February 18 in Daytona and concludes November 4 in Phoenix. The playoffs consist of seven final races with 10 drivers competing.
NASCAR schedules all its top three series to begin and end on the same weekend. Therefore, the Truck Series has many more off weekends than the Cup Series. The record for Truck Series races run in one single season is 27 in 1998 and the lowest is 20 during its inaugural season in 1995.
The Truck Series often races at the same tracks as the Cup Series, as part of a double or tripleheader race weekend across NASCAR series. There are three standalone truck events in 2022: dirt track Knoxville Raceway, road course Mid-Ohio, and short track Lucas Oil Raceway. The Lucas Oil Raceway event is in Indianapolis, the same weekend the Cup Series races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
How Many Races Are There In The ARCA Menards Series?
There are 20 races in the ARCA Menards Series. Its 2022 season began February 19 at Daytona and ends October 8 at Toledo Speedway. The ARCA Menards Series is a primary NASCAR feeder system and is often the final hurdle for drivers hoping to advance to one of the three major NASCAR series.
ARCA, Automobile Racing Club of America, has had 20 races on its schedule every year since 2014. 13 of ARCA’s 20 races are at the same track and weekend as at least one of the three premiere NASCAR series. NASCAR purchased ARCA in 2018 after a decades-long unofficial partnership.
Creating extended race weekends at one location is one way NASCAR tries to grow the series and provide an action-filled weekend for fans. ARCA packed its schedule full in 1956, racing a record-high 46 times. Its schedule drooped mightily in 1981, when the series raced a record-low eight times.
Longest NASCAR Season In History
The longest season in NASCAR history occurred in the 1964 Cup Series with 62 races run. NASCAR began the season in November 1963, running two races each in November and December before the calendar turned to 1964. From start to finish, the season was only two days short of a full calendar year.
NASCAR only scheduled more than 60 races for that one season, but ran over 50 races another eight times, the last being in 1969. The NASCAR Cup Series packed its schedule in its earlier days, with multiple races run per week. Most races were run at small tracks in the South, so it took less time to pack and up move along to the next race than it does now with races held across the United States.
Mid-week races for the Cup Series ended during this era until the Coronavirus pandemic forced a restructured schedule in 2020. Needing to make up two months of postponed races, NASCAR packed its revamped schedule with four weeknight races and three weekend double headers. This creative schedule allowed NASCAR to race its playoff as scheduled and complete the season on time.
Shortest NASCAR Season In History
The shortest season in NASCAR history was the very first one in 1949, with only eight races that were run. NASCAR ran its first sanctioned race on June 19, 1949, and the inaugural season was concluded on October 16, just four months later.
For context, the packed 1964 schedule had eight races in May alone that year. NASCAR expanded its schedule to 19 races for the 1950 season and each season since 1951 has featured at least 28 races.
There are 36 races in a NASCAR season. In 2022 there are 92 NASCAR races including the Truck Series and the Xfinity Series. This provides fans with nearly 100 chances to catch great racing action. Teams and drivers maintain their competitive edge and focus for nine months of on-track activity.