How Long is a NASCAR Season?


When you follow a NASCAR Cup Series season, it’s easy to get a little lost; what with the main season and the playoffs…are they even part of the same season? We’re going to look in more detail at what exactly constitutes the entire NASCAR season.

The ten-month NASCAR season consists of 38 races, including a 26-race regular season and a 10-race playoff series and 2 All star races. The season spans from February to March with races held mostly on Sunday afternoons. The Xfinity and Truck series seasons are 5 and 16 races shorter comparatively.

We will take a look at mainly the Main Cup Series schedule, but we also quickly cover both the Xfinity and the Truck series to give you some idea of the differences between all three national series.

How Long is a NASCAR Season?

The current NASCAR seasons run for 10 months from February to November each year. The season has 38 races in total: 36 regular races, as well as the All-Star Race and the Bud Shootout. This makes the current NASCAR season about three months longer than that of Major League Baseball, which stands at about seven months.

It sounds like a long season, and by all accounts it is, but NASCAR drivers of the day have a much less grueling schedule than their predecessors did back in the 1960s.

Back in 1964, for instance, what we now call the NASCAR Cup Series was known as the Grand National Series, and this season was made up of 62 races in total, running from November 10, 1963 all the way through to November 8, 1964. That’s a schedule that’s impossible to run away from and there was no break for those NASCAR drivers.

How is the NASCAR Season Divided Up?

Let’s now look in a bit more detail as to how the NASCAR season is divided up. The main division of the season is between the regular season and the playoffs.

  • The regular season includes the first 26 races, after which the best 16 drivers are seeded to compete in the final ten races.
  • The latter 10 races is what is referred to as the NASCAR Playoffs.
  • The final 10 races of the playoffs takes the NASCAR season to November, where a single driver is crowned the winner of the Cup Series.

In 2022, that was Joey Logano. ( and he is doing pretty well in 2023 at the time of writing as well. )

we have a table showing all three series seasons ands their breakup below. However we do explain the Xfinity and Truck series seasons a little more below as well.

Table 1: Length of Season for Cup, Xfinity and Truck NASCAR Series.

NASCAR SeriesSeasonal monthsHow many regular Season racesHow many playoff racesTotal Races
Cup SeriesFeb – November26 Races10 races38 Races (with all stars etc.)
Xfinity SeriesFeb – November26 Races7 Races33 Races
Camping World Truck SeriesFeb – November16 Races7 Races23 Races

What’s the Difference Between the Main Season and the Playoffs?

In many ways, the races in the main season and the races in the playoffs are actually much the same. You see the same setup on the tracks, with 40 cars competing, and the race divided into stages, etc.

The difference comes in the way that the playoffs are organized in terms of points. The real competition in the last 10 races is between those top 16 drivers who are competing for the top spot, steadily being eliminated from the competition until only four remain for the final race of the season.

On the final race day, the winner is decided by who finishes top out of those four drivers within the wider race. It makes for an exciting day when we’re not only watching to see who will win that race outright, but who in the Championship Four will emerge victorious to take the Cup Series crown.

how long is the nascar season

Does a NASCAR Season Have Any Traditions?

Daytona 500

NASCAR has a pretty long history going back more than half a century. During that time, a number of interesting traditions have arisen which are honored each year with the new season. For instance, the first race of the season is always the Daytona 500 in Daytona, Florida. While the race in Daytona was always part of the season, it has only been the official opening race since 1982.

The Daytona 500 has seen some pretty dramatic scenes over the years, some heroic and some tragic, including the infamous death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001. For the majority of sports franchises, a big event on the scale of the Daytona 500 is usually left until the very end of the season, but with NASCAR, they like to start things off with a big show.

Darlington Raceway

On the Saturday of Mother’s Day Weekend, you will find NASCAR fans filling the stands of the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. The track has a unique egg shape and has enthralled fans since becoming a regular fixture in the season since 2005. Darlington is doubly important because it has acted as the replacement race for a former traditional meet, which was the Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend.

Unique Trophies

Another great tradition of the NASCAR season is found in the trophies. Each race brings its own unique flavor to the trophy, but perhaps the most interesting and well-known is that of the grandfather clock trophy. This award is given to the winner of the Martinsville Speedway race, and it’s worth something like $10,000 in itself.

This is no gimmick or toy grandfather clock, it’s the real deal, hence the great monetary value. Beyond the financial value, however, is the symbolic importance of winning what is perhaps the most unique prize in any major sporting event.

Hockey teams go for the Stanley Cup and football teams for the Super Bowl victory, but NASCAR has its own unique traditions when it comes to awards.

Other traditional trophies include (but are not limited to) the soaring eagle trophy from Pocono Raceway, the wine trophy from Sonoma Raceway, and the live lobster that you win at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Can any other sport match this variety?, and a live lobster – I would want to win that!

Kissing the Bricks

Finally, we have a tradition that started with NASCAR, but has since spread to IndyCar and some perhaps even know it more for IndyCar. “Kissing the bricks” refers to the act of the winner kissing the start line at the Brickyard 400 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It started back in 1996 at the third race ever held there when Todd Parrott became the first person to deliver the kiss to the bricks after winning the 400-mile race.

The slightly sad part of the story is that this tradition no longer happens because the last Brickyard 400 — which of course had many corporate-sponsored names over the years — was finished in 2020. Still, the act stood the test of time and is still well known among the fan base.

How Long is the NASCAR Xfinity Series Season?

The NASCAR Xfinity Series is the second-highest level of professional stock car racing in the United States, just below the NASCAR Cup Series. The Xfinity Series season typically runs alongside the Cup Series, with a similar schedule, although slightly shorter, spanning from February to November. The season consists of 33 races, including a regular season of 26 races and a 7-race playoff series.

The Xfinity Series playoffs follow a similar format to the Cup Series, with the top 12 drivers advancing to the playoffs based on points earned during the regular season. The playoff races determine the Xfinity Series Champion, with drivers eliminated from contention in each round until only four remain for the championship race.

How Long is the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Season?

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is the third-tier of professional stock car racing in the United States, featuring modified pickup trucks. Like the other 2 national NASCAR series, the Camping World Truck Series season runs from February to November. The season comprises 22 races, with a regular season of 15 races and a 7-race playoff series and there fore there are longer breaks through the season.

The Camping World Truck Series playoffs adopt a similar structure to both the Cup and Xfinity Series. The top 10 drivers based on points accumulated during the regular season advance to the playoffs.

Martinsville nascar trophy

Conclusion

In summary, the NASCAR season lasts for ten action-packed months from February to November, with a total of 38 races. The season is split into a 26-race regular season and a 10-race playoff series, where the NASCAR Cup Series Champion is determined.

Rich in traditions and unique prizes, NASCAR is an exciting sport with a growing fan base. From the famous Daytona 500 to the historic Darlington Raceway, the NASCAR season offers fans unforgettable moments and fierce competition that keeps them hooked.

And if you are wondering when you will get your TV back from the NASCAR fan in your family you can set a data for mid November, and jsut be thankful its not 1963 or 1964!

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