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.
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.