NASCAR COVID-19 policy will not change for playoffs

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Regular-season champion Kevin Harvick isn’t taking any chances.

With NASCAR reaffirming this week that any driver testing positive for COVID-19 is not allowed to race until meeting standards to return, Harvick seeks to remain isolated the next 10 weeks for the playoffs.

“I travel by myself (to the track),” said the 2014 Cup champion. “I drive in the rental car by myself. I go to the motorhome by myself. I get back in the rental car, and I go home. 

“We don’t go to the grocery store. We don’t go to any social events anywhere. My son doesn’t go to school. He’s now homeschooled. So there’s really nothing that this whole situation hasn’t changed in our family’s life in order to try to create the safest environment that we can possibly create in our own little bubble, I guess you could say.”

He’ll remain in his personal bubble through the playoffs, which begin with Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (6 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

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NASCAR’s policy is the same as what it had in place for the regular season. Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon each missed a race after testing positive for novel coronavirus.

For any playoff driver, missing a race because of a positive COVID-19 test doesn’t necessarily end their title hopes but will make it more difficult to transfer to the next round. They likely would need to win to advance.

The NASCAR COVID-19 policy states that any competitor who has tested positive cannot return to competition until they have two negative tests more than 24 hours apart. If after 10 days, a NASCAR member is unable to produce two negative tests, their return status may be medically reviewed by a NASCAR consulting physician. 

The question becomes if a driver would attempt to hide any symptoms to continue their quest for the championship.

“We will control the things we’re going to control and understand that the drivers when they’re coming into the bubble are going to follow the same protocols that we’ve been following,” NASCAR President Steve Phelps said.

Joey Logano, the 2018 Cup champion, says he will remain vigilant.

“Our safety needs to be the utmost concern, just for everybody, not just for ourselves, not in a selfish way but in a selfless way we need to be smart about testing,”he said. “Now, also, we need to be smart about who we see and how we do things and all that as much as ever. 

“As the world is starting to open up slowly and things like that, I think for these 10 weeks I probably still need to be smart about it because my season is on the line. I think we just keep doing the same things we’ve been doing. You wash your hands. You wear your mask. You social distance. Those are the things that you can do.”

Chase Elliott, who seeks his first championship, said NASCAR’s policy makes him cautious on what he does.

“I’ve thought about that some, for sure,” he said of NASCAR’s rule. “And just being smart. And trying to wash your hands and do all the things that we’re supposed to be doing from that standpoint. That’s really all we can do, right, are the things that they’ve put out there for us and try to be smart about who you’re around and the environment you are in.

“So, from my end, I’m going to certainly try to think about some of that stuff some more and try to be as smart as possible and hope for the best. I mean, that’s really all we can do.”

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