NASCAR releases 2015 Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck series schedules

Many NASCAR traditions have changed during recent years, but at least one is coming back.

The Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway – considered one of the “crown jewel” races of the Sprint Cup Series – will return to its traditional Labor Day weekend in 2015.

“This is a true example of Darlington Raceway, (International Speedway Corp.) and NASCAR all working together to give fans what they have wanted for many years – the tradition of stock car racing on Labor Day weekend at the ‘Lady in Black,’ ” said track President Chip Wile.

The Southern 500 was held on Labor Day weekend from 1950 through 2003 before Darlington’s lone Cup series date moved to Mother’s Day weekend. This season, the race was held April 12.

The 500 will move to Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015. A start time has not been set.

The Darlington date was one of just a handful of changes in next year’s Cup schedule.

Atlanta’s lone Cup race weekend, the most recent track to occupy the Labor Day weekend, will move to the second race of the season.

The spring race weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, which has been beset by attendance problems, will move to a April 19 in 2015.

There remain 36 Cup points races. The season will open Feb. 22 at Daytona Beach, Fla., and conclude Nov. 22 at Homestead, Fla. The 10 races which make up the championship Chase remain the same.

Charlotte Motor Speedway again will host two points races – the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24 and the Oct. 10 Bank of America 500. The track also will host the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 16.

The 2015 season also will be the start of NASCAR’s new TV deal, which essentially splits the Cup and Nationwide series seasons between Fox and Fox Sports 1 and NBC and NBC Sports Network.

NBC will kick off its return as a broadcast partner with the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona on Sunday night, July 5.

The race traditionally is held on Saturday night and Daytona International Speedway officials said it would return to Saturday night in 2016.

The Nationwide series, which will get a new name next season, again will have 33 races in 2015 with no new tracks on the schedule.

The Truck series schedule will increase to 23 races, with one event added to the Atlanta race weekend. The Truck race at Atlanta will run on Saturday, Feb. 28, as a doubleheader with the Nationwide series.

• The National Hot Rod Association dates at Concord also have been released. The NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway will be March 27-29 and the NHRA Carolina Nationals on Sept. 18-20.