Very tenatively, racing returns

We don’t ordinarily cover NASCAR very much here because there are any number of other websites that do it extensively. But we’re going to make an exception here for some very significant news. NASCAR has announced that its top series will make its return to live competition beginning on Sunday, May 17th, at Darlington Raceway. One NASCAR Cup Series race will be held that afternoon, with a second Cup race the following Wednesday night, May 20th. Sandwiched between the two will be a NASCAR Xfinity Series on Tuesday, May 19th. This will mark NASCAR’s first attempt at live competition since the COVID-19 pandemic brought its schedule, and the rest of the sports world, shuddering to a halt in March. Either FOX or FS1 will carry the Darlington races live, but there’s a major hitch: No spectators will be present at any event.

This kind of tightly compressed schedule may become the template for NASCAR’s 2020 season. Its leadership team here in Daytona Beach is determined to run NASCAR’s entire 36-race Cup schedule in full, a determination that’s partly driven by TV contracts and sponsorship commitments. The road show next moves to Charlotte Motor Speedway, where the Cup Series will run on Sunday, May 24th, and Wednesday, May 27th, with Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series events on May 25th and 26th, respectively. The May 24th NASCAR Cup Series race is the traditional Memorial Day weekend Coca-Cola 600 and will be held at 6 p.m. Again, no spectators will be on hand. All the races will be single-day events with no practice sessions. Qualifying will only be held for the Coca-Cola 600. The announcement didn’t mention it specifically, but it’s reasonable to assume that the May 24th event will stand in as NASCAR’s annual made-for-TV all-star event, the race that was originally known as The Winston. NASCAR will mandate PPE and social distancing for all participants, along with coronavirus testing for all individuals entering or leaving the track. This isn’t the only initial step being undertaken to resume racing in America. The World of Outlaws has announced that its own schedule will resume this month, sans spectators. The WoO Sprint cars will have a one-day show at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa next Friday, May 8th. The WoO Late Models will resume the following Friday, May 15th, down the road at Iowa’s Boone Speedway. Want some? Both full programs will be livestreamed on DIRTVision; visit the website to sign up for action.

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