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Michigan International Speedway loses June race on NASCAR's 2021 schedule

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

For the second time in just more than 50 years, there will be just one NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

The racing series released its 2021 schedule on Wednesday and there will be no June event in Michigan with the only race taking place on Aug. 22.

Michigan International Speedway is only getting one race weekend on NASCAR's 2021 schedule.

“While we certainly wish that we were able to host two NASCAR weekends once again, here at MIS we remain committed to providing the same exceptional atmosphere for which our fans have become accustomed from a race weekend in the Irish Hills,” Michigan International Speedway President Rick Brenner said in a statement. “Our fans have exhibited a tremendous amount of loyalty over the years, and we appreciate their continued support. Michigan International Speedway has a long, rich tradition of providing outstanding racing on the track and unforgettable memories off it. Those are things that will not change.”

Since 1969, the only year MIS did not host two races was 1973. In every other year, there have been two — one in June and one in August, except for this year, when both races were in August because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to NASCAR, the goal was to provide a more dynamic schedule, and that, apparently, includes coming to Michigan only once.

“We’re still in Michigan and I think if you ask our race fans where they want to see our sport, they want to see us at as many tracks as possible, where we can showcase the sport,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President & Chief Racing Development Officer. “Unfortunately, we only have so many dates. So for us we’re going to make that a terrific event in Michigan and obviously our OEM partners — two of them are there so it’s an important market to them — but in order for us to continue to expand the portfolio of NASCAR these are some of the moves that we need to make. But we think we’re making the right ones to iconic facilities.”

In addition to dropping a race in Michigan, the series will no longer race at Chicagoland Speedway or Kentucky Speedway but will race twice in Darlington and twice in Atlanta.

New venues are also included with races at Circuit of The Americas, a 3.426-mile road course in Austin, Texas; Nashville Superspeedway, a 1.33-mile oval in Lebanon, Tennessee; and Road America, a 4.048-mile road circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, that last hosted the Cup Series in 1956. Also, the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be run on the 2.439-mile road course.

“It was important for us to introduce new markets but embrace what got us to where we are, and I think you see a really great balance of that with our schedule,” O’Donnell said. “We’re about to go to some iconic race tracks — Road American, COTA, the change at Indy, two races at Darlington. Our whole industry loves Darlington. Atlanta, we used to have a championship in Atlanta and now we’re going back there twice.

“For us it was a real balance of embracing the old and also looking at some new things.”

Fans who previously held tickets for the June NASCAR race at MIS will have the opportunity to relocate to comparable seating for the August race weekend, based on availability. Ticketholders for the June event who have a credit will be able to use that for the August date at MIS, or at any other NASCAR-owned track during the 2021 or 2022 season. 

The MIS team will be contacting customers over the coming weeks to talk through any questions and options.

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau