NASCAR to go back racing May 17 at Darlington

Nick DeGroot

NASCAR will be one of the first major sporting events to return to action following the UFC. They have been forced to postpone races at Atlanta, Homestead, Texas, Bristol, Richmond, Talladega, Dover and Martinsville since the outbreak. 

The current plan is to return to racing May 17th in a 400 mile race at Darlington Raceway. All events listed below will be run without fans.

“NASCAR and its teams are eager and excited to return to racing, and have great respect for the responsibility that comes with a return to competition,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “NASCAR will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials and all those in the local community. We thank local, state and federal officials and medical experts, as well as everyone in the industry, for the unprecedented support in our return to racing, and we look forward to joining our passionate fans in watching cars return to the track.” 

Date Track Series Distance Network Start (ET)
Sun, May 17  Darlington Cup 400mi FOX 3:30 PM
Tue, May 19 Darlington Xfinity 200mi FS1 8:00 PM
Wed, May 20  Darlington Cup 500km FS1 7:30 PM
Sun, May 24 Charlotte Cup 600mi FOX 6:00 PM
Mon, May 25 Charlotte Xfinity 300mi FS1 7:30 PM
Tue, May 26 Charlotte Trucks 200mi FS1 8:00 PM
Wed, May 27  Charlotte Cup 500km FS1 8:00 PM

“It’s an honor for Darlington Raceway to resume the 2020 NASCAR season in just a few short weeks with three races in four days," said track president Kerry Tharp. "Darlington is one of the most iconic and historic tracks in the sport and will be a tremendous backdrop when NASCAR returns to racing. We certainly appreciate the support from our state’s leadership in working with NASCAR to allow us to host these events.

“In accordance with the CDC and public health agency standards and protocols, no fans will be admitted to these events; however, we encourage all fans to tune in to FOX, FS1, FOX Deportes, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.”

The unique schedule will feature two Cup events in May at both Darlington and Charlotte and will include midweek races.

Coca-Cola 600 remains

All practice sessions have been eliminated, and only the 600-miler at Charlotte will have qualifying. There is no word yet on how the starting lineup will be set for the other races.

The Coca-Cola 600 will ran as planned on Memorial Day Weekend while the other two crown jewel races of that weekend (Indianapolis 500 and Monaco Grand Prix) remain called off.

“I’d like to thank Gov. Cooper, NASCAR and all of our state and local government and health officials who have worked so hard with us to make this happen,” said Speedway Motorsports President and Chief Executive Officer Marcus Smith. “This has been a proactive effort to put our motorsports industry back to work and boost the morale of sports fans around the world, while at the same time keeping the health and safety of all who will be on site the top priority.

“As America fights its way back from the pandemic and the economic shutdown, we’re proud that one of the world’s most iconic races, the Coca-Cola 600, will take place on Memorial Day Weekend as it traditionally has for nearly six decades,” said Smith. “As one of the first races back on television, the Coca-Cola 600 will be part of America’s broadcast coming-out party for live, major-league sports competition. Sports fans around the world need this -- a return to some sense of normalcy with live sports on TV -- and NASCAR is uniquely positioned to deliver it from a competition standpoint.

Other changes

Each event will be a one-day show with personal protective equipment (PPE) mandated throughout the event. Health screenings for all individuals will be mandatory for all individuals entering the track, exiting the track and while inside the track. Social distancing protocols will continued to be followed and changes will be made to hauler/garage setups to ensure a safe distance between all participants. There will also be strict limits on the number of people allowed inside the venue at any given time.

“We are excited to welcome back the FOX NASCAR season to our airwaves to provide a return to live sports, a move toward normalcy and a much-needed distraction during these unprecedented times,” said Mark Silverman, President, National Networks, FOX Sports. “While we are thrilled to return to the race track, the health and safety of our employees and all race participants is our top priority.  We will continue working in lockstep with our partners at NASCAR and the race tracks to follow all national and local health guidelines.”

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