Race Weekend Central

Fire on Fridays: So, What’s This About Rockingham?

At this point, to figure out the 2025 NASCAR Silly Season, you’re probably better off throwing darts on a map to see who goes where and who sells what.

But let’s not forget that the 2025 schedule is also yet to be released, and based on some of the reports we had about the 2024 schedule, it’s not a far-fetched idea that some of those reports could be come reality for 2025.

The biggest points of interest for additions to the schedule include an international trip: Whether that’s at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal or Autodromos Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City. Then there’s the potential addition of Bowman Gray Stadium, which could be the next home of the Busch Light Clash.

Not to mention the ever-present litany of hurdles Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway has been trying to clear in an attempt to get the NASCAR Cup Series to return there for the first time in 40 years.

But one track that is likely one of the next tracks to potentially return to the NASCAR schedule is Rockingham Speedway. Located about 90 miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway, Rockingham has largely been viewed as the next track to be revived following North Wilkesboro Speedway’s return to racing.

In 2021, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper gave Marcus Smith, president of Speedway Motorsports, $40 million for money to renovate SMI-owned tracks Charlotte and North Wilkesboro. Smith and Cooper also allocated a fair portion of that money to give Rockingham a similar (yet not as extreme) facelift to the one North Wilkesboro received in order to return to racing.

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Prior to the 2024 schedule’s release, there were rumors that North Wilkesboro might get a points race and the All-Star Race would then be moved to Rockingham. Ultimately, that did not come to fruition, and North Wilkesboro hosted the All-Star Race again this season.

Rockingham did not appear on the 2024 schedule, but that hasn’t stopped some from hoping that the 1.017-mile speedway returns in some capacity, whether its in the highest form with the Cup Series or even a standalone race for the NASCAR Xfinity Series or NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

However, according to Carson Hocevar, Rockingham could make its triumphant return in 2025.

While the 2025 schedule has yet to be released, we already know of one major change: The second race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be moved from the first race of the playoffs all the way up to June 28. Currently, Nashville Superspeedway holds the final weekend of racing in June, which will likely move that race up a week or back two weeks (the Chicago street course will likely be the first weekend of July).

Not to mention, the season will end at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 2, which is around a week earlier than normal to avoid further conflict with the NFL’s season. Add in the two-week Olympic break being eliminated next season because … well, no Olympics, and already we know the schedule will look a little different than it does this year.

Enter the driver of the No. 77 in the Cup Series.

Hocevar, while streaming himself iRacing on Twitch, seemingly broke some news that a new track would be added to the schedule in 2025.

When a Twitch user commented, asking if he had heard anything about next year’s schedule, Hocevar quickly stated, “Rockingham’s coming back, which is really cool. They’re finally gonna take advantage of that one.”

Hocevar then continued racing before pondering out loud whether or not that was a rumor, believing that his “breaking news” was already reported before he said anything.

Someone apparently must’ve let Hocevar know that there were no such reports, only rumors. Moments later, Hocevar let out a nervous laugh, as if he had just pulled a Tom Holland and spoiled the ending to a Marvel movie.

“Well, now you know,” Hocevar said, still smiling nervously. “This is a safe space.”

So how much truth is there to Hocevar’s statement?

As no media have been able to corroborate or confirm such a claim, it’s hard to know for sure just how believable that claim is. One would imagine that drivers are more in-the-know on stuff like schedules, as they’re the ones who make the laps. They likely have at least some knowledge of the schedule before anybody else and are instructed to stay mum on unreleased dates until after the schedule is released.

It could have very well one big oopsie on Hocevar’s part to reveal that Rockingham is coming back.

However, it’s no secret Hocevar likes to joke around a lot. This could be nothing more than one big gotcha from him. He knows that he has a camera on when he streams, and likely has more than enough sense to know not to reveal information like that unless he’s been given the green light to do so or is sure that it’s public knowledge.

It could just be one big act. As an actor myself, there are some things that Hocevar does to make me believe he could just be acting to get a reaction out of people over Rockingham’s return.

But it’s the nervous laugh that makes the whole thing seem like he legitimately revealed information he thought was already public knowledge when it wasn’t. That is a laugh that someone makes when they know they may have just messed up.

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But again, it could all be a big joke. It’d be more apparent if he said a track like Pikes Peak International Raceway (a track that has not been in any conversation to return at any point) was returning. Rockingham is a track that has widely been seen as the next project to get to return to the schedule since North Wilkesboro’s revival. It’s return would absolutely be welcomed, and Hocevar likely knows that.

Just take a look at the crowd from when the Truck Series raced there in 2012 and 2013. The track had solid attendance just for a third-tier series that raced there almost a decade after the Cup Series’ last race.

There might be more truth to Hocevar’s claim than we might ever give him credit for, especially with the longstanding rumors swirling about its return.

Your guess is as good as mine whether or not The Rock makes its triumphant return. Hocevar very well might know something we don’t. But if the 2025 schedule comes out and Rockingham is nowhere to be found on any of the three premier series’ schedules, some people might look to Hocevar to place blame.

About the author

Frontstretch.com

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. 

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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