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Best, worst fanless sports viewing experiences during COVID-19

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Best, worst fanless sports viewing experiences during COVID-19

The fans return, in limited numbers, on Tuesday. Good for you if you are one of the 4,000 or so who will be allowed inside Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center that night. Good for the Knicks and Nets, both of whom have had seasons in which they have deserved to bask in spectator adulation (and, sure, absorb the occasional reservoir of boos).

Since June, when sports began to trickle back to us, it has been a strange sensory study: How much do mostly (and, around here, entirely) empty stadiums subtract from the overall viewing experience? In some ways, the difference has felt minimal; in others it is a gaping, dreadful hole. We’ve been through it all. We’ve watched it all. Which has been best? Which has been worst?

Here’s one man’s ranking of all of that. I am most curious what other men’s (and women’s) perspectives have been.

  1. NFL: For years the joke has been that one day, NFL games will be played in made-to-order TV studios since football, especially pro football, is such a more complete experience on TV than it is in person. Maybe the fact we got 32 perfectly dreadful local football games to watch this past year, but I never once found myself distracted by the empty seats, and the games all looked as they probably would have in normal times.
  2. NHL: This is no surprise, but the level of play seemed absolutely unchanged, both in last summer’s bubble and this year’s uniquely configured four-division system. That’s because 99.9 percent of all hockey players will play with equal intensity if it’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals or a pickup game at an outdoor rink in Moose Jaw with a keg of beer as the stakes.
  3. PGA: I have to admit, I didn’t miss the “You da man!” guy even in the old days if I had the TV on mute, and I never once found myself distracted by the lack of galleries. Sure, something’s missing on the 72nd hole of a major without a rousing crowd greeting, but it’s been easy to overcome.
  4. NBA: It’s been a little more of an adjustment this year, with teams playing in their own arenas. But in the Florida bubble last summer, the extraordinary level of play — helped by the lack of onerous travel and what seemed to be a wonderful shooting background — carried the day.
  5. MLB: Yes, the cardboard cutouts limited the depressing look to many games. The electronically-added crowds were sometimes silly but sometimes welcome. It was early, so the fake crowd noise wasn’t perfected and seemed especially fake. But as someone who actually covered some games in person, I can attest: The TV experience was at least 90 percent more enjoyable than being at the empty ballparks.
  6. NCAA Football: Honestly, most of the games you wanted to see were played in places where there haven’t exactly been arduous social-distance commitments, so it almost seems unfair to put this in here. Still, like the NFL, the product itself is still fine, even in those stadiums that were echoing.
  7. Tennis: The difference between the Australian Open, where there was a limited amount of spectators, and the U.S. Open — which felt like tennis being played at the bottom of the Grand Canyon — was extraordinary. Good for the folks in Queens for grinding through, but that was the one sports event this year where I was constantly aware that nobody was there. It was hard.
  8. College basketball: That last part? It applies to college hoops, too. So much of the sport’s appeal is the visceral gameday experience. Without that, the games can still be fun to watch — St. John’s renaissance has been a blast the past few weeks — but without pep bands, student sections and a generally raucous environment, it’s been a long, hard road.

Vac’s Whacks

The New York State Baseball Hall of Fame announced this week that it will induct both Jay Horwitz and his longtime friend and colleague, the late Shannon Forde, this November. Which only shows the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame has a perfect understanding of what the definition of “Hall of Famer” is. Bravo.


Stop staring at my coach, Boston College.


Maybe there are better ways to introduce yourself to a new fan base, but Taijuan Walker posting a bottle of GTS 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Seaver Vineyards looks to be the new gold standard from where I sit.


It’s freezing, and it feels like we’re living in a real-life snow globe … but knowing that DJ LeMahieu will soon be spraying line drives into the Tampa sunshine makes it all seem 25 percent more bearable, somehow.

Whack Back at Vac

Larry Wigbels: Remember “Spahn and Sain & pray for rain” or “Tanana and Ryan & two days of cryin’?” With the 2021 Yankees we’ve got “Cole … and then the Black Hole.”

Vac: Note to self: Try to figure out words that rhyme with “Kluber” and “Taillon” in the next few months, just in case.


Sam Tee: For all the talk of New York not being a college sports town, there’s still a certain buzz when St. John’s is winning games.

Vac: The Johnnies are the exception to the rule, and a welcome one. If they ever become top-10 regulars again, you’ll want to be at the Garden for every big game again, just like back in the day.


@scottwilli75: If someone has to wear Naismith Hall of Famer Carl Braun’s No. 4 jersey at least it’s a real player like Derrick Rose. I hope the Knicks will one day retire 4, 8 (Nat Clifton), 9 (Richie Guerin) and 30 (Bernard King). These legendary Hall of Fame players deserve it.

@MikeVacc: As regular readers of this column know, I’m now in Year 15 of trying to get Bernard’s No. 30 sent to the rafters, but this year does beg a question: Does Julius Randle playing with that number, as well as he has, which invites many mentions of King that would not normally happen, almost honor King’s legacy as much as a retired jersey would?


Brian Augello: In your article about championships, you left out Frankie Crosetti, Yankees legend. He wasn’t on the level of Jordan and Yogi, but he won 17 championships — eight as a player, nine as a coach. A remarkable career.

Vac: And that’s one record, for sure, you can mark down in ink. Won’t ever be approached.

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NHL playoff games today: Full TV schedule to watch 2021 Stanley Cup playoff games

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NHL playoffs schedule 2021: Full bracket, dates, times, TV channels for every series

Oh, baby! The best postseason is officially here.

Sixteen NHL teams will battle it out for the greatest trophy in all of sports: the Stanley Cup. How it’ll all play out is a little different in 2021: the four best teams in each division will face each other (1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3 in Round 1) and the eventual division champs will meet in the Stanley Cup semifinals. The last two teams standing will then go head-to-head in the Stanley Cup Final.

Here’s everything to know about watching NHL playoff games in 2021, including a complete TV schedule with start times and channels for every series.

MORE: Watch NHL playoff games live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)

NHL playoff games today

Here’s the full schedule of NHL playoff games for today:

Sunday, May 16

Matchup Time TV channel
Game 1: Islanders at Penguins Noon ET NBC, SN, TVA Sports
Game 1: Wild at Golden Knights 3 p.m. ET NBC, SN, TVA Sports
Game 1: Lightning at Panthers 7:30 p.m. ET NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports

Check out SN’s live scoreboard for stats and more.

STANLEY CUP PREDICTIONS: Sporting News’ 2021 NHL playoff picks

NHL playoffs 2021: TV channels, live stream

  • TV (U.S.): NBC, NBCSN, USA, CNBC, NHLN
  • TV (Canada):  Sportsnet, Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet 360, CBC, FX, FXX and OMNI
  • Stream (U.S.): NBC Sports.com | fuboTV (free trial)
  • Stream (Canada): SN Now, SN NOW+, NHL Live
  • Live scores: SN Scoreboard

The 2021 postseason marks the final year NBC’s family of networks will broadcast games on the NHL’s road to the Stanley Cup. First-round games will be shown on NHL Network and across NBC channels in the United States, while in Canada games will be shown on FX, FXX, Sportsnet’s channels and CBC.

In Canada, Chris Cuthbert and Craig Simpson will describe the Maple Leafs-Canadiens series while Harnarayan Singh and Louie DeBrusk will bring fans Oilers-Jets. David Amber and Ron McLean will be the studio anchors and will be joined by a rotating crew of analysts and insiders.

NBC will also employ a rotating crew that will include play-by-play announcers Kenny Albert, John Forslund and Brendan Burke and analysts Eddie Olczyk, AJ Mleczko and Dominic Moore.

NHL playoff bracket 2021

(SN Illustration)

NHL schedule 2021

The first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs started on Saturday, May 15, and, if it runs the full gamut, will end on Monday, May 31. 

*If necessary

Round 1

Saturday, May 15

Matchup Time TV channel
Game 1: Bruins at Capitals 7:15 p.m. ET NBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports

Sunday, May 16

Matchup Time TV channel
Game 1: Islanders at Penguins Noon ET NBC, SN, TVA Sports
Game 1: Wild at Golden Knights 3 p.m. ET NBC, SN, TVA Sports
Game 1: Lightning at Panthers 7:30 p.m. ET NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports

Monday, May 17

Matchup Time TV channel
Game 2: Bruins at Capitals 7:30 p.m ET NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports
Game 1: Predators at Hurricanes 8 p.m. ET CNBC, SNE, TVA Sports
Game 1: Blues at Avalanche 10 p.m. ET NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports

Tuesday, May 18

Matchup Time TV channel
Game 2: Islanders at Penguins 7:30 p.m. ET NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports
Game 2: Lightning at Panthers 8 p.m. ET CNBC, SNE, TVA Sports
Game 2: Wild at Golden Knights 10 p.m.ET  NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports

Wednesday, May 19

Matchup Time TV channel
Game 3: Capitals at Bruins 6:30 p.m. ET NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVA Sports
Game 2: Predators at Hurricanes 8 p.m. ET CNBC, FX-CA, TVA Sports
Game 1: Jets at Oilers 9 p.m. ET NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports
Game 2: Blues at Avalanche 10:30 p.m. ET CNBC, SN360, TVA Sports

Thursday, May 20

Matchup Time TV channel
Game 3: Panthers at Lightning 6:30 p.m. ET USA, FX-CA, TVA Sports
Game 3: Penguins at Islanders 7 p.m. ET NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports
Game 1: Canadiens at Maple Leafs 7:30 p.m. ET NHL Network, SN, CBC, TVA Sports
Game 3: Golden Knights at Wild 9:30 p.m. ET NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sport

Friday, May 21

Matchup Time TV channel
Game 4: Capitals at Bruins 6:30 p.m. ET NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVA Sports
Game 3: Hurricanes at Predators 7 p.m. ET USA, FXX-CA, TVA Sports
Game 2: Jets at Oilers 9 p.m. ET NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports
Game 3: Avalanche at Blues 9:30 p.m. ET USA, SN360, TVA Sports

Saturday, May 22

Matchup Time TV channel
Game 4: Panthers at Lightning 12:30 p.m. ET CNBC, SN, TVA Sports
Game 4: Penguins at Islanders 3 p.m. ET NBC, SN, TVA Sports
Game 2: Canadiens at Maple Leafs 7 p.m. ET CNBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports, OMNI
Game 4: Golden Knights at Wild 8 p.m. ET NBC, SN360, TVA Sports

Sunday, May 23

Matchup Time TV channel
Game 3: Oilers at Jets TBD TBD
Game 4: Hurricanes at Predators TBD TBD
Game 4: Avalanche at Blues TBD TBD
*Game 5: Bruins at Capitals TBD TBD

Monday, May 24

Matchup Time TV channel
Game 3: Maple Leafs at Canadiens TBD TBD
Game 4: Oilers at Jets TBD TBD
*Game 5: Islanders at Penguins TBD TBD
*Game 5: Lightning at Panthers TBD TBD
*Game 5: Wild at Golden Knights TBD TBD

Tuesday, May 25

Matchup Time TV channel
Game 4: Maple Leafs at Canadiens TBD TBD
*Game 5: Blues at Avalanche TBD TBD
*Game 5: Predators at Hurricanes TBD TBD
*Game 6: Capitals at Bruins TBD TBD

Wednesday, May 26

Matchup Time TV channel
*Game 5: Jets at Oilers TBD TBD
*Game 6: Panthers at Lightning TBD TBD
*Game 6: Golden Knights at Wild TBD TBD
*Game 6: Penguins at Islanders TBD TBD

Thursday, May 27

Matchup Time TV channel
*Game 5: Canadiens at Maple Leafs TBD TBD
*Game 6: Avalanche at Blues TBD TBD
*Game 6: Hurricanes at Predators TBD TBD
*Game 7: Bruins at Capitals TBD TBD

Friday, May 28

Matchup Time TV channel
*Game 6: Oilers at Jets TBD TBD
*Game 7: Lightning at Panthers TBD TBD
*Game 7: Wild at Golden Knights TBD TBD
*Game 7: Islanders at Penguins TBD TBD

Saturday, May 29

Matchup Time TV channel
*Game 6: Maple Leafs at Canadiens TBD TBD
*Game 7: Predators at Hurricanes TBD TBD
*Game 7: Blues at Avalanche TBD TBD

Sunday, May 30

Matchup Time TV channel
*Game 7: Jets at Oilers TBD TBD

Sunday, May 30

Matchup Time TV channel
*Game 7: Canadiens at Maple Leafs TBD TBD

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What channel is NASCAR on today? TV schedule, start time for Dover race

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What channel is NASCAR on today? TV schedule, start time for Dover race

For those who are asking “What channel is today’s NASCAR race on?” the answer is the one that will be given over the next few weeks.

The TV channel for Sunday’s NASCAR race is FS1. The network will air the Drydene 400 from Dover International Speedway. The race is the 13th of the NASCAR Cup Series 2021 season, and Fox or FS1 has been the channel for all 13 races.

Sunday’s race will start a bit earlier than the usual mid-afternoon time window for Cup Series events. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 2:11 p.m. ET. Dover does not have lights, although the weather is expected to cooperate and there should be enough time to complete the race before sunset.

Below is how to watch Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Cup Series race, including the TV channel and live stream options:

MORE: Watch today’s NASCAR race live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)

What channel is NASCAR on today?

Fox and Fox Sports 1 will televise NASCAR races through the June 13 All-Star Race at Texas. FS1 will air Sunday’s race, the 13th of the NASCAR Cup Series 2021 season. NBC and NBC Sports Network are scheduled to air all races after June 13, including the playoffs.

As is the case for all the Cup Series races on Fox and FS1 this season, Mike Joy will call the race along with analysts Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Larry McReynolds. Jamie Little and Regan Smith will be the pit reporters.

NASCAR live stream for Dover race

Anyone who has a cable or satellite subscription can stream Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR race at Dover live via FoxSports.com or the Fox Sports Go app.

For those who don’t have a cable or satellite subscription, there are six OTT (over-the-top) TV streaming options that carry Fox and FS1 — AT&T TV, fuboTV, Hulu, Sling, Vidgo and YouTubeTV. Of the six, fuboTV, Hulu and YouTubeTV offer free-trial options.

Below are links to each.

What time does the NASCAR race start today?

  • Date: Sunday, May 16
  • Start time: 2 p.m. ET (TV time)

The green flag for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway is scheduled to wave at 2:11 p.m. ET.

Weather conditions in Dover, Del., are expected to be ideal. The National Weather Service is calling for partly sunny skies, light winds and temperatures in the low 70s on Sunday.

NASCAR Cup Series 2021 schedule

Below is the remaining schedule for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series regular season and playoffs, beginning with Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway.

NASCAR Cup Series 2021 regular season

Date Race Track Time (ET) TV Radio
May 16 Drydene 400 Dover International Speedway 2 p.m. FS1 MRN
May 23 NASCAR Cup Series Race at COTA Circuit of the Americas 2:30 p.m. FS1 PRN
May 30 Coca-Cola 600 Charlotte Motor Speedway 6 p.m. Fox PRN
June 6 Toyota/Save Mart 350 Sonoma Raceway 4 p.m. FS1 PRN
June 13 NASCAR All-Star Open Texas Motor Speedway 6 p.m. FS1 MRN
June 13 NASCAR All-Star Race Texas Motor Speedway 8 p.m. FS1 MRN
June 20 Ally 400 Nashville Superspeedway 3:30 p.m. NBCSN MRN
June 26 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Pocono-1 Pocono Raceway 3 p.m. NBCSN MRN
June 27 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Pocono-2 Pocono Raceway 3:30 p.m. NBCSN MRN
July 4 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Road America Road America 2:30 p.m. NBC MRN
July 11 Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart Atlanta Motor Speedway 3:30 p.m. NBCSN PRN
July 18 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 New Hampshire Motor Speedway 3 p.m. NBCSN PRN
Aug. 8 Go Bowling at The Glen Watkins Glen International 3 p.m. NBCSN MRN
Aug. 15 Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard powered by Florida Georgia Line Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course 1 p.m. NBC IMS
Aug. 22 FireKeepers Casino 400 Michigan International Speedway 3 p.m. NBCSN MRN
Aug. 28 Coke Zero Sugar 400 Daytona International Speedway 7 p.m. NBC MRN

NASCAR Cup Series 2021 playoffs Round of 16

Date Race Track Time (ET) TV Radio
Sept. 5 Cook Out Southern 500 Darlington Raceway 6 p.m. NBCSN MRN
Sept. 11 Federated Auto Parts 400 Richmond Raceway 7:30 p.m. NBCSN MRN
Sept. 18 Bass Pro Shops Night Race Bristol Motor Speedway 7:30 p.m. NBCSN PRN

NASCAR Cup Series 2021 playoffs Round of 12

Date Race Track Time (ET) TV Radio
Sept. 26 South Point 400 Las Vegas Motor Speedway 7 p.m. NBCSN PRN
Oct. 3 YellaWood 500 Talladega Superspeedway 2 p.m. NBC MRN
Oct. 10 Bank of America ROVAL 400 Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course 2 p.m. NBC PRN

NASCAR Cup Series 2021 playoffs Round of 8

Date Race Track Time (ET) TV Radio
Oct. 17 Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 Texas Motor Speedway 2 p.m. NBC PRN
Oct. 24 Hollywood Casino 400 Kansas Speedway 3 p.m. NBCSN MRN
Oct. 31 Xfinity 500 Martinsville Speedway 2 p.m. NBC MRN

NASCAR Cup Series 2021 playoffs Championship 4

Date Race Track Time (ET) TV Radio
Nov. 7 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Phoenix Raceway 3 p.m. NBC MRN

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What time does the NASCAR race start today? TV schedule, channel for Dover race

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What time does the NASCAR race start today? TV schedule, channel for Dover race

For anyone who’s asking “What time is the NASCAR race today,” the answer is that it’s a few minutes earlier than usual.

But the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway is still scheduled to roll off mid-afternoon and close to NASCAR’s preferred time window for Cup Series races this season.  

Dover will be the 13th race this year and the 12th scheduled for the daytime. Just six points races and the All-Star Race are scheduled to be run at night the remainder of the season. Dover does not have lights, and thus the earlier starting time. 

Below is all you need to know about the schedule for the Drydene 400 at Dover.

MORE: Watch today’s NASCAR race live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)

What time does the NASCAR race start today?

  • Date: Sunday, May 16
  • Start time: 2 p.m. ET (TV time)

The green flag for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway is scheduled to wave at 2:11 p.m. ET.

Weather conditions are expected to be ideal. The National Weather Service is calling for partly sunny skies, light winds and temperatures in the low 70s in Dover, Del., on Sunday.

What channel is NASCAR on today?

Fox and Fox Sports 1 will televise NASCAR races through the June 13 All-Star Race at Texas. FS1 will air Sunday’s race, the 13th of the NASCAR Cup Series 2021 season. NBC and NBC Sports Network are scheduled to air all races after June 13, including the playoffs.

As is the case for all the Cup Series races on Fox and FS1 this season, Mike Joy will call the race along with analysts Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Larry McReynolds. Jamie Little and Regan Smith will be the pit reporters.

NASCAR live stream for Dover race

Anyone who has a cable or satellite subscription can stream Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR race at Dover live via FoxSports.com or the Fox Sports Go app.

For those who don’t have a cable or satellite subscription, there are six OTT (over-the-top) TV streaming options that carry Fox and FS1 — AT&T TV, fuboTV, Hulu, Sling, Vidgo and YouTubeTV. Of the six, fuboTV, Hulu and YouTubeTV offer free-trial options.

Below are links to each.

NASCAR Cup Series 2021 schedule

Below is the remaining schedule for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series regular season and playoffs, beginning with Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway.

NASCAR Cup Series 2021 regular season

Date Race Track Time (ET) TV Radio
May 16 Drydene 400 Dover International Speedway 2 p.m. FS1 MRN
May 23 NASCAR Cup Series Race at COTA Circuit of the Americas 2:30 p.m. FS1 PRN
May 30 Coca-Cola 600 Charlotte Motor Speedway 6 p.m. Fox PRN
June 6 Toyota/Save Mart 350 Sonoma Raceway 4 p.m. FS1 PRN
June 13 NASCAR All-Star Open Texas Motor Speedway 6 p.m. FS1 MRN
June 13 NASCAR All-Star Race Texas Motor Speedway 8 p.m. FS1 MRN
June 20 Ally 400 Nashville Superspeedway 3:30 p.m. NBCSN MRN
June 26 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Pocono-1 Pocono Raceway 3 p.m. NBCSN MRN
June 27 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Pocono-2 Pocono Raceway 3:30 p.m. NBCSN MRN
July 4 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Road America Road America 2:30 p.m. NBC MRN
July 11 Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart Atlanta Motor Speedway 3:30 p.m. NBCSN PRN
July 18 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 New Hampshire Motor Speedway 3 p.m. NBCSN PRN
Aug. 8 Go Bowling at The Glen Watkins Glen International 3 p.m. NBCSN MRN
Aug. 15 Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard powered by Florida Georgia Line Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course 1 p.m. NBC IMS
Aug. 22 FireKeepers Casino 400 Michigan International Speedway 3 p.m. NBCSN MRN
Aug. 28 Coke Zero Sugar 400 Daytona International Speedway 7 p.m. NBC MRN

NASCAR Cup Series 2021 playoffs Round of 16

Date Race Track Time (ET) TV Radio
Sept. 5 Cook Out Southern 500 Darlington Raceway 6 p.m. NBCSN MRN
Sept. 11 Federated Auto Parts 400 Richmond Raceway 7:30 p.m. NBCSN MRN
Sept. 18 Bass Pro Shops Night Race Bristol Motor Speedway 7:30 p.m. NBCSN PRN

NASCAR Cup Series 2021 playoffs Round of 12

Date Race Track Time (ET) TV Radio
Sept. 26 South Point 400 Las Vegas Motor Speedway 7 p.m. NBCSN PRN
Oct. 3 YellaWood 500 Talladega Superspeedway 2 p.m. NBC MRN
Oct. 10 Bank of America ROVAL 400 Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course 2 p.m. NBC PRN

NASCAR Cup Series 2021 playoffs Round of 8

Date Race Track Time (ET) TV Radio
Oct. 17 Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 Texas Motor Speedway 2 p.m. NBC PRN
Oct. 24 Hollywood Casino 400 Kansas Speedway 3 p.m. NBCSN MRN
Oct. 31 Xfinity 500 Martinsville Speedway 2 p.m. NBC MRN

NASCAR Cup Series 2021 playoffs Championship 4

Date Race Track Time (ET) TV Radio
Nov. 7 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Phoenix Raceway 3 p.m. NBC MRN

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