NASCAR announces 2022 schedule, with early season race in Fontana

·3 min read
Kyle Buschs stands on his car after winning the NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on March 17, 2019.
Kyle Buschs stands on his car after winning the NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on March 17, 2019. (Rachel Luna / Associated Press)

NASCAR racing will return to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on Feb. 27, 2022, for the first time in almost two years as the second official race in the circuit’s 10-month season. The announcement Wednesday comes a day after it was revealed that the first event of the season, the Clash, an exhibition of top drivers, will be held inside the Coliseum on Feb. 6. It’s the first time in four decades that the first event will not be held in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Last year the Fontana race was scheduled to be second on the schedule, but because of the pandemic, racing was kept in Florida and the race was run on the Daytona International Speedway road course. The last time Cup racing was at Auto Club Speedway was March 1, 2020.

“Our fans have waited a long time for this and we’re ready to celebrate with them,” said Dave Allen, the track’s president. This will be the track’s 25th anniversary.

NASCAR announced its full schedule Wednesday and the first points-generating race of the season will be, as usual, the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20. NASCAR is the only sport that puts its biggest race at the front of the season, instead of the end. After Fontana, racing heads to Las Vegas on March 6 and Phoenix on March 13. The circuit returns to the West during the playoff run with races in Las Vegas on Oct. 16 and the season-ending championship race at Phoenix on Nov. 6.

The circuit is adding a track next year, holding its first ever Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis on June 5.

Next year will also be the debut of the Next Gen race car, which is designed to improve aerodynamic and downforce packages and also lower the cost of racing so as to attract more manufacturers.

2022 NASCAR schedule

Feb. 6: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (exhibition)

Feb. 20: Daytona Beach, Fla.

Feb. 27: Fontana

March 6: Las Vegas

March 13: Phoenix

March 20: Atlanta

March 27: COTA (Austin, Texas)

April 3: Richmond, Va.

April 9: Martinsville, Va.

April 17: Bristol, Tenn. (dirt track)

April 24: Talladega, Ala.

May 1: Dover, Del.

May 8: Darlington, S.C.

May 15: Kansas

May 22: Texas (Fort Worth, all-star weekend)

May 29: Charlotte

June 5: St. Louis

June 12: Sonoma, Calif.

June 19: Off week

June 26: Nashville

July 3: Road America (Elkhart Lake, Wisc.

July 10: Atlanta

July 17: New Hampshire

July 24: Pocono (Long Pond, Pa.)

July 31: Indianapolis

Aug. 7: Michigan

Aug. 14: Richmond

Aug. 21: Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Aug. 27: Daytona Beach, Fla.

(Start of playoffs)

Sept. 4: Darlington, S.C.

Sept. 11: Kansas

Sept. 17: Bristol, Tenn.

Sept. 25: Texas (Fort Worth)

Oct. 2: Talladega, Ala.

Oct. 9: Charlotte Roval

Oct. 16: Las Vegas

Oct. 23: Homestead-Miami

Oct. 30: Martinsville, Va.

Nov. 6: Phoenix

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.