NASCAR announces procedural changes because of COVID-19

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NASCAR announced Wednesday a series of changes at the track because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The changes will take place this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which will host the Cup, Xfinity and Gander and RV Outdoors Truck Series and remain in effect indefinitely. Among the changes:

Driver/crew chief meeting: NASCAR will hold driver/crew chief meetings in open air locations and will limit the meeting to drivers, crew chiefs, team owners and select officials and dignitaries.

Driver autographs. Drivers should pre-sign items whenever possible, carry their own Sharpie and hero cards should be the primary form for all autographs.

Driver appearances. Should be structured to ensure that drivers are visible to fans in an open-air setting, such as Q&A sessions.

Pre-race and post-race activities (driver introductions, grid & victory lane). NASCAR will provide a 6-foot buffer around the grid and driver introduction stage.

NASCAR stated: “As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation develops nationally and across local markets where we race, NASCAR remains in daily consultation with public health officials and other prominent sports and entertainment properties. In addition, we have added an infectious disease specialist to our consulting physician group to provide technical assistance and to inform policy. In following with these discussions and guidance from this counsel, NASCAR is implementing several adjustments to race event operations effective this weekend at Atlanta and remaining in effect indefinitely.”

Other measures from NASCAR:

Team haulers. NASCAR recommends that access to team haulers be restricted to necessary personnel at team’s discretion.

Advance in-market driver appearances. All advance appearances will be replaced with remote media activities and/or rescheduled for a later date in coordination with racetracks.  

Driver at track media availabilities. The informal rotations for all three series will be changed to press conferences on the riser in the media center. Full field driver availabilities during qualifying, infield care center driver availability and post-race bullpen will remain in effect, but with a 6-foot buffer in place. 

Atlanta Motor Speedway will provide additional hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer stations this weekend for fans. The track will give fans individual hand sanitizers as they enter the stands. A track spokesperson said track officials encourage fans to practice good hygiene by washing hands regularly and using hand sanitizer.

More than 1,000 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus.

The World Health Organization called the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, a pandemic on Wednesday. The World Health Organization defines pandemic as a worldwide spread of a new disease for which most people do not have immunity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated Thursday on its website that there had been 29 deaths reported in the United States from COVID-19. The CDC reports that 38 states and the District of Columbia have reported cases of COVID-19.

The CDC reported 23 cases of COVID-19 in Georgia, site of this weekend’s NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck races. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported on its site Wednesday that the state had six confirmed cases and 16 presumptive cases.

Click here for NASCAR media availability at Atlanta

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