NASCAR releases 2012 lineup

NASCAR's 2012 schedule, released Wednesday, revealed some changes, including eliminating the off-week that traditionally had been in Week 3 of the season.

In addition, NASCAR wanted to avoid any chance of a conflict with the Super Bowl, especially when the NFL season was still in jeopardy during collective bargaining talks in the summer and the possibility the Super Bowl would be moved back a week from Feb. 5 to Feb. 11.

So NASCAR decided to start the season one week later, with the Daytona Shootout on Feb. 18, the Daytona Duel on Feb. 23, and the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26.

"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," NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said.

The "Preseason Thunder," NASCAR's three-day Cup Series test session at Daytona, will be held Jan. 12-14.

In other changes, races at Phoenix International Speedway (March 4) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 11) both were pushed back a week from the 2011 schedule.

The Talladega race, scheduled for Oct. 7, will become the fourth race in the Chase for the Cup, instead of its current place as the sixth race.

The last race of the season will be Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, as usual.

The 2012 schedules for the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series will be released at a later date.