Daytona Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway returning to its traditional Labor Day weekend date is one of many changes NASCAR has made to its 2015 schedule for the Sprint Cup Series.
NASCAR officially released next year's schedule for its premier series on Tuesday. Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway and the spring races at Phoenix International Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway have date changes as well. The 400-mile event at Daytona in July has been moved from Saturday night to Sunday night.
The 500-mile race at Darlington had been held on Labor Day weekend from 1950-2003. Since 2004, Darlington was placed on various dates, mostly on Mother's Day weekend.
"We raced the Bojangles' Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend for 53 years. Returning to a date in 2015 that is filled with so much tradition and history is a historic moment for our fans and local community," Darlington Raceway president Chip Wile said in a statement.
For the 14th consecutive year, the series schedule will include 36 points races, beginning with the Feb. 22 Daytona 500 and ending on Nov. 22 in Homestead, Florida. The preseason, non-points event at Daytona is scheduled for Feb. 14, and the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway is slated for May 16.
After the Daytona 500, the series will travel to Atlanta (March 1) and then head west for the next three races -- Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 8), Phoenix (March 15) and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (March 22). Phoenix had the second race of the season from 2011-14.
As announced last weekend, Bristol's spring race has been changed from March to April. Bristol is scheduled for April 19. Texas Motor Speedway's spring event returns to Saturday night.
Kentucky has been moved from the last weekend in June to the second weekend in July. New Hampshire Motor Speedway will host its first race of the season one week after Kentucky.
The final off-weekend for the series had been on the third weekend in July. That has now moved to the last weekend in August. After the night race at Bristol on Aug. 22, the next event will be at Darlington on Sept. 9.
The Chase-cutoff event at Richmond International Raceway will take place on Sept. 12, and the 10-race championship Chase will begin at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 20.
From the season-opening weekend at Daytona through the month of June, FOX and FOX Sports 1 will televise all Sprint Cup races. Starting in July at Daytona and concluding in November at Homestead, NBC and NBC Sports Network will broadcast the second half of the season.
2014 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES SCHEDULE
Feb. 14 Sprint Unlimited, Daytona International Speedway*
Feb. 22 Daytona International Speedway
March 1 Atlanta Motor Speedway
March 8 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 15 Phoenix International Raceway
March 22 Auto Club Speedway
March 29 Martinsville Speedway
April 11 Texas Motor Speedway
April 19 Bristol Motor Speedway
April 25 Richmond International Raceway
May 3 Talladega Superspeedway
May 9 Kansas Speedway
May 16 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, Charlotte Motor Speedway*
May 24 Charlotte Motor Speedway
May 31 Dover International Speedway
June 7 Pocono Raceway
June 14 Michigan International Speedway
June 28 Sonoma Raceway
July 5 Daytona International Speedway
July 11 Kentucky Speedway
July 19 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
July 26 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Aug. 2 Pocono Raceway
Aug. 9 Watkins Glen International
Aug. 16 Michigan International Speedway
Aug. 22 Bristol Motor Speedway
Sept. 6 Darlington Raceway
Sept. 12 Richmond International Raceway
Sept. 20 Chicagoland Speedway
Sept. 27 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Oct. 4 Dover International Speedway
Oct. 10 Charlotte Motor Speedway
Oct. 18 Kansas Speedway
Oct. 25 Talladega Superspeedway
Nov. 1 Martinsville Speedway
Nov. 8 Texas Motor Speedway
Nov. 15 Phoenix International Raceway
Nov. 22 Homestead-Miami Speedway
* Denotes non-points event.