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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



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