For the first time since 1989 and only the 12th time in series history, the NASCAR Cup Series will race on Easter Sunday.
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series schedule, officially unveiled Wednesday, consisted of a night race on the dirt configuration of Bristol Motor Speedway. The second annual Bristol dirt race will be broadcast on the main FOX network.
The move comes as a way to position NASCAR as a new holiday tradition for Easter – similar to the NFL’s connection to Thanksgiving and NBA’s connection to Christmas Day – without interfering with the holiday itself.
“I think to that end, having it later in the day, and on prime time on Sunday, we want to make sure that for fans, families, team members, drivers, that they have the opportunity to celebrate earlier on in the day,” Ben Kennedy, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation, said. “Then for fans that may be tuning in at night or coming out to the track that evening, the ability to come out there and continue to be together and watch NASCAR racing we felt like was important.
Kennedy elaborated, stating the race taking place later in the evening was “a big part of the calculus of that decision”.
NASCAR last raced on Easter in 1989 at Richmond Raceway. The race was scheduled to run on February 26 but was delayed to March 26 due to inclement weather. Rusty Wallace won the 1989 Richmond race.
The NASCAR Cup Series has raced on Easter ten other times, in 1953-54, 1959-63, 1965, 1969-70.
Two tracks hosted more than one Easter Sunday race – Wilson Speedway hosted in 1959-60, Hickory Motor Speedway hosted in 1961 and 1969.
Richard Petty has four Easter Sunday wins and Junior Johnson has two. Dick Passwater, Gober Sosebee, Cotton Owens, Bobby Isaac, Bobby Allison and Rusty Wallace each have one Easter Sunday win.