No Fans as NASCAR Returns to Racing


No Fans as NASCAR Returns to Racing

After realizing drivers and most crew members already wear a mask, gloves, visor, and a fireproof suit, the next step in reopening the most successful racing franchise in motorsports history was to find a track. Not just any track but one that is uniquely located close to most North Carolina-based racing teams but far enough away from everything else to minimize human exposure. The most obvious track… Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. There’s more Spanish Moss surrounding the track than people living there. Plus, why not choose the original superspeedway known as the Lady in Black.

Although the sanctioning body had to restrict fans gathering anywhere on track property, everyone was quick to accept the fact that returning to racing must be in accordance with the CDC and South Carolina public health agency standards and protocols. Now the only thing that was needed to relaunch the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series were a few tweaks to processes and procedures. For example, no practice day meant teams could likely drive down from their shop and back again for race day. And, no qualifying or warmup laps means no need for a backup car or extra crew members in the pits.

After all, race announcers always say “These guys are Good”, so why not let drivers come off a two-month layoff, crawl behind the wheel of a 900-horsepower Cup car, and head wide open into the first turn of a completely green 70-year old racetrack. Yep… that will work. And, it did for driver Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas race team. After the traditional winner’s burnout, Harvick stood in front of the empty grandstands and gave thanks to medical personnel who have so tirelessly sacrificed during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Having claimed both NASCAR Cup and Xfinity championships, Harvick earned his nickname as “the Closer” due to the number of races he has won coming from behind and passing for the lead late in the race.

Having stepped away from full-time racing after the 2018 NASCAR CUP season, Matt Kenseth (pictured in DeWALT colors) started Sunday’s race at “the track that’s too tough to tame” with no practice, no qualifying, and no recent CUP racing experience. Not a problem for the driver with 69 victories in NASCAR’s three pro divisions. Even with the radical changes that have been made to chassis setup, aero downforce, and the handling of NASCAR’s Gen-6 race car, Kenseth stayed out of trouble and finished in the Top 10. Listed below are upcoming race dates for the initial group of seven races in NASCAR’s plan for racing in the “New Normal”.

NASCAR’s COVID-19 RACE SCHEDULE

Sunday – May 17

CUP Series – 400 miles

Darlington Raceway S.C.

Tuesday – May 19

Xfinity Series – 200 miles

Darlington Raceway S.C.

Wednesday – May 20

CUP Series – 500km

Darlington Raceway S.C.

Sunday – May 24

CUP Series – 600 miles

Charlotte Motor Speedway N.C.

Monday – May 25

Xfinity Series – 300 miles

Charlotte Motor Speedway N.C.

Tuesday – May 26

Gander Trucks – 200 miles

Charlotte Motor Speedway N.C.

Wednesday – May 27

CUP Series – 500km

Charlotte Motor Speedway N.C.

 

NASCAR RACING SCHEDULE: Condensed NASCAR 2020 Championship

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