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NASCAR releases 2012 Cup schedule

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR released its schedule for the 2012 Sprint Cup season on Wednesday. Most of the schedule will mirror the 2011 lineup with a few changes.

One of those adjustments takes place during NASCAR’s playoffs – the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – and could affect the strategy during the championship run. Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway’s Chase event moves up two weeks to Oct. 7, becoming the fourth race in the Chase. Often labeled as the wild-card track in the Chase, Talladega’s grueling test is now staged during the first half of the Chase.

Talladega swaps its Chase date with Kansas Speedway (Oct. 21) to accommodate Kansas’ repave, scheduled for after the track’s spring event. As such, Kansas’ spring date has also been moved. Kansas now will be the eighth race of the season on April 22. Talladega’s spring event moves to May 6, and Dover (Del.) International Speedway’s spring event returns to its traditional spot on June 3.

As previously announced, the season-opening Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway will start one week later with the running of the preseason exhibition Shootout at Daytona on Feb. 18. The 54th annual Daytona 500 will run on Feb. 26.

The race dates for Phoenix International Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway have likewise been moved a week later, to March 4 and March 11, respectively.

The Cup Series will have two off-weekends: April 7-8 and July 21-22.

Here is the full schedule:

Feb. 18 Shootout (Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway)
Feb. 23 Duel 1 (Daytona)
Feb. 23 Duel 2 (Daytona)
Feb. 26 Daytona
March 4 Phoenix International Raceway
March 11 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 18 Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
March 25 Auto Club Speedway
April 1 Martinsville (Va.) Speedway
April 14 Texas Motor Speedway
April 22 Kansas Speedway
April 28 Richmond (Va.) International Raceway
May 6 Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
May 12 Darlington (S.C.) Raceway
May 19 Showdown (Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway)
May 19 All-Star (Charlotte)
May 27 Charlotte
June 3 Dover (Del.) International Speedway
June 10 Pocono Raceway
June 17 Michigan International Speedway
June 24 Infineon Raceway
June 30 Kentucky Speedway
July 7 Daytona
July 15 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
July 29 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Aug. 5 Pocono
Aug. 12 Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International
Aug. 19 Michigan
Aug. 25 Bristol
Sept. 2 Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sept. 8 Richmond
Sept. 16 Chicagoland Speedway
Sept. 23 New Hampshire
Sept. 30 Dover
Oct. 7 Talladega
Oct. 13 Charlotte
Oct. 21 Kansas
Oct. 28 Martinsville
Nov. 4 Texas
Nov. 11 Phoenix
Nov. 18 Homestead-Miami Speedway

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