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2012 Sprint Cup schedule unveiled

The Sprint Cup schedule for the 2012 season has been published, with a slightly later start to the year but otherwise featuring few changes to this year's line-up.
NASCAR has published the 2012 Sprint Cup season schedule, featuring the 36 Cup races together the pre-season Shootout and Duel events at Daytona, and the mid-season Showdown and All-Star exhibition races.

The season-opening non-championship Speedweek at Daytona International Speedway will start one week later than it did in 2011, with the Shootout on February 18. The official Cup opener, the Daytona 500, is scheduled for the following weekend on Sunday February 26 - the latest start to the season since 1966. That forces a knock-on week's delay to the Phoenix and Las Vegas rounds which are now scheduled for the start of March.

The spring race at Texas has been moved to April 14 as a result of the timing of Easter next year, and the mid-week timing of the July 4 holiday in 2012 means that the summer race at Daytona will swap with Kentucky Speedway.

Perhaps the most significant change in an otherwise unsurprising schedule is that the autumn restrictor plate race at Talladega Superspeedway - which can have a big impact in the championship battle - is moved up to occupy the fourth slot of the Chase.

"Next year's schedule has a few adjustments that we think will be good for the fans and good for the overall flow of the season," said NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France. "We believe the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule will once again provide fans with what they've come to expect every season: the world's most exciting and competitive form of motorsports."

In the US, TV coverage continues to be split into three blocks across networks, with Fox taking the first 13 Cup races as well as the Speedweek and All-Stars exhibition events, TNT the next 6 and then ABC (and its cable sports channel ESPN) the final 17 races.

NASCAR is still to announce the 2012 schedules for the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series competitions.

2012 Sprint Cup schedule

-- . Shootout - February 18
-- . Daytona 500 qualifying - February 19
-- . Duel 1 - February 23
-- . Duel 2 - February 23
1. Daytona 500 - February 26
2. Phoenix - March 4
3. Las Vegas - March 11
4. Bristol - March 18
5. Auto Club Speedway, Fontana - March 25
6. Martinsville - April 1
7. Texas - April 14
8. Kansas - April 22
9. Richmond - April 28
10. Talladega - May 6
11. Darlington - May 12
-- . Showdown (Charlotte) - May 19
-- . All-Star (Charlotte) - May 19
12. Charlotte - May 27
13. Dover - June 3
14. Pocono - June 10
15. Michigan - June 17
16. Infineon Raceway, Sonoma - June 24
17. Kentucky - June 30
18. Daytona - July 7
19. Loudon - July 15
20. Indianapolis - July 29
21. Pocono - August 5
22. Watkins Glen - August 12
23. Michigan - August 19
24. Bristol - August 25
25. Atlanta - September 2
26. Richmond - September 8
27. Chicago - September 16
28. Loudon - September 23
29. Dover - September 30
30. Talladega - October 7
31. Charlotte - October 13
32. Kansas - October 21
33. Martinsville - October 28
34. Texas - November 4
35. Phoenix - November 11
36. Homestead - November 18



Related Pictures

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Daytona International Speedway - panorama. [Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images]
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, has an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, takes the chequered flag ahead of Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota, to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, takes the chequered flag ahead of Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota, to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, poses with the winner`s decal in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #24 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet SS, races to a seventh-place finish Sunday, February 21, 2016 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 Golden Corral Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet SS races to an eighth-place finish, February 21, 2016 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by HHP/Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch/Jimmy John`s Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet SS makes a pit stop Sunday, February 21, 2016 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Harvick finished 4th in the race. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch/Jimmy John`s Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet SS and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet SS race Sunday, February 21, 2016 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Harvick finished 4th and Dillon finished 9th. (Photo by Andrew Coppley for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS drives to victory Thursday, February 18, 2016 winning the first of two NASCAR Sprint Cup Can-Am Duel races at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. This is Earnhardt Jr.`s second consecutive Duel victory. He will start on the inside of Row 2 for Sunday`s Daytona 500 race. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett for Chevy Racing)
Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Chevrolet, races Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, during practice for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Brian Scott, driver of the #44 Albertsons Co./Shore Lodge Ford, talks to team owner Richard Petty in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75 Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Can-Am Duels at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, poses in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Can-Am Duels at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Can-Am Duels at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Can-Am Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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