COVID-19

Here is what upcoming NASCAR Cup races fans can attend

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Wednesday saw NASCAR announce the remaining regular season schedule for all three national series, including six Cup Series races.

In total, 10 Cup points races and the All-Star Race remain in the regular season, beginning with Sunday’s race at Kentucky Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, not all tracks are allowing fans to attend.

Here are the fan policies for the remainder of the Cup Series regular season.

Kentucky Speedway (Sunday)

Fans will not be allowed to attend.

 

All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (July 15)

Up to 30,000 fans will be allowed to attend the race.

 

Texas Motor Speedway (July 19)

Fans making up to 50% of the track’s capacity will be allowed to attend.

 

Kansas Speedway (July 23)

Fans will not be able to attend.

 

New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Aug. 2)

Roughly 19,000 fans will be able to attend.

 

Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 8-9)

Fans will not be able to attend.

 

Daytona International Speedway (Aug. 16 and Aug. 29)

“We’re working towards having fans and hopefully we’ll have some news on when we’re going to go on sale in the next couple of days,” said track president Chip Wile Thursday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”

 

Dover International Speedway (Aug. 22 – 23)

Speedway officials remain in consultation with local, state and federal health officials, as well as Delaware Gov. John Carney, on whether fans will be allowed in the stands with appropriate social distancing for the August events.

Face masks among precautions for Bristol All-Star Race

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Fans attending the July 15 All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway will be required to wear face coverings in common areas, the track announced Thursday.

Common areas include gates, restrooms, concessions, souvenir stands, elevators, concourses and suite-level hallways.

The face covering requirement does not apply when fans are at their seat.

Previously, fans had been highly encouraged to wear masks.

Required face coverings in common areas are among the COVID-19 safety precautions Bristol Motor Speedway has announced for the All-Star Race, which will allow up to 30,000 fans to attend.

Organizations BMS has been in discussion with regarding precautions include Sullivan County Health Department officials, Ballad Health representatives, Tennessee state health experts, the city of Bristol, Tennessee and regional/state travel and tourism advisors.

“It was a very collaborative process,” Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, said in a statement to NBC Sports about the reasoning behind the face mask requirement. “We’ve had a number of discussions with state and local officials and as more information, data and statistics and have been made available to us, it was just a common sense solution we all agreed upon.”

Caldwell also addressed how the track will enforce the common area requirement.

“We’ve had a whole list of prohibited items over the years and it will be addressed just like those other items are,” Caldwell said to NBC Sports. “We’ll have team members positioned throughout the facility assisting guests and helping to remind them of new protocols.”

More: Format, rules for All-Star Race

Here is the full list of precautions Bristol will have in place for the All-Star Race.

Face Coverings
• Guests are encouraged to put on masks once they enter the property
• Facial coverings are required whenever guests are in common areas such as gates, restrooms, concessions, souvenir stands, elevators, concourses and suite-level hallways
• Masks may be removed once guests are socially distanced in their assigned seats

Ticketing
• All ticketing, from initial purchase to scanning, will be conducted digitally to eliminate contact points
• Seating will be strategically assigned at the time of purchase to ensure social distancing between groups
• No will-call or in-person ticket pickup services will be available (all ticketing will be conducted digitally)
• Tickets start at $35 for adults, $10 for kids 12 and under, and are on sale at www.bristolmotorspeedway.com
• Guest Services personnel will be on hand during the event to help answer questions and provide guidance

Transportation
• Trams and shuttle buses will not operate during this event
• Golf cart shuttles will be reserved for guests with limited mobility
• Free parking is available at Speedway Parking (located at the corner of White Top Road and Highway 394)
• Paid parking options are available at neighboring properties

Wellness
• If a guest purchases a ticket and then becomes ill, a refund will be issued
• All BMS personnel will be temperature screened on event day and wear a face covering at all times. Personnel will also wear gloves, as needed.
• Whether on grounds or off, BMS encourages all residents and guests to observe the practices of social distancing, frequent hand washing, wearing a face covering in all public spaces, and using hand sanitizer

Entry/Exit
• Guests will receive notification of designated entrance times and assigned gate
• All guests accessing the suites will undergo temperature screenings before entering elevators
• No re-entry after leaving the facility
• On completion of the race, a staggered exit plan will be in effect (BMS will provide guidance for dismissal of seating areas to help reduce crowding on concourses and in aisles)

Social Distancing
• Guests are asked to socially distance at all times while on grounds (floor markings at concourse, concession and souvenir stands and directional traffic flow signage will be provided)
• BMS’ Ticket Office will stagger seating throughout the stands to provide for a minimum of 6 feet of distance between groups
• Suites will operate at a reduced capacity, in line with Tennessee state guidance

Cleanliness
• Hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the grounds
• BMS will follow enhanced cleaning procedures, especially in high-touch surface areas such as handrails and bathrooms

Food & Drink and Souvenirs
• All purchases from food and souvenir stands will be electronic transactions (debit and credit cards only, no cash or checks)
• Only clear, soft-sided bags 14” x 14” x 14” and smaller will be allowed
• No coolers or glass containers permitted
• Bristol Motor Speedway’s gift shop inside the Bruton Smith Building, will be closed

Camping
• No on-grounds camping, other than a limited number of overnight RV spaces, will be available
• Area campgrounds will open on Tuesday, July 14, and close on Thursday, July 16.

Additional Changes
The following amenities have been temporarily halted in order to comply with industry guidelines and help reduce the risk of transmission:
• On-grounds concerts
• Public access to infield (no track walks or hot/cold passes)
• Public access to drivers’ meeting
• Driver meet-and-greet sessions
• Headset/scanner rentals
• Golf cart rentals
• Fan Zone, corporate and vendor displays
• Pay phones

Joey Logano: ‘I’ve tried to treat everyone like they have COVID-19’

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With a recent uptick in positive test results for COVID-19 in parts of the country, NASCAR driver Joey Logano isn’t taking anything to chance.

“I’ve tried to treat everyone like they have COVID-19,” Logano said during a media teleconference Friday afternoon. “That’s at least my way of trying to stay safe.”

The philosophy works for Logano, which is significant partly because one member of Team Penske tested positive for the virus nearly a week ago, along with two employees of Stewart-Haas Racing.

There is also a reported increase of positive tests and hospitalizations in the Charlotte area, according to The Charlotte Observer.

“If you look at Team Penske, I can’t speak for all the teams, but they are very strict at how seriously they’re taking this virus,” Logano said. “Everybody in that place has a mask on all day long. If you get on a team plane, you’re (wearing a) mask and rubber gloves the whole time.

“They’ve done a really good job at that. If you look at who else they needed to quarantine after that, it’s a very small group because everybody has been so strict at Team Penske to where it doesn’t shut down our whole race shop.

“We’ve done a real good job social distancing where we can, but also wearing our PPE (personal protective equipment) all the time. That’s the most important things we can do.”

“Some of the best advice I’ve gotten out of this whole thing is assume everybody has coronavirus and what would you do? You’re obviously not going to shake someone’s hand, you’re going to stay a little more distant, you’re going to wear your mask, you’re going to wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer. You’re going to do that stuff.

“If you have that mindset that the person next to you has COVID-19, you’re going to obviously be nervous about it. So I’ve tried to treat everyone like they have COVID-19. That’s at least my way of trying to stay safe. Our sport has done a real good job at it and I think Team Penske has done even better, in my opinion.”

In another teleconference earlier in the day, Greg Ives, crew chief for Alex Bowman and the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE also spoke about precautions he and the organization are taking — particularly when teams are on the road at races — in light of the virus resurgence.

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro of Alex Bowman. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

“On an individual basis, you have to have those conversations with each guy that you have on your team,” Ives said. “From the comfort level of traveling to different areas. I’ve had that conversation with them.

“The other thing is, everybody at Hendrick Motorsports is taking this time seriously. When we are traveling to Pocono, how are we going to feed our guys and supply them with the food they need? It may sound trivial, but (one way is) not having them go to restaurants to potentially expose them.

“And we’ve come up with plans where basically we give them the meals they need so they are only going to one location. Making sure they eat at the track versus going out to somewhere else. Those types of things, even from how we are feeding the guys to how we are protecting them, is definitely very much important to not only myself, but everybody at Hendrick Motorsports.

“I feel like we’re doing it the best way, the safest way. For those that may feel uncomfortable in those scenarios or situations, we’re definitely hearing their voice and taking the proper protocol.”

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Stewart-Haas, Penske employees tested positive for COVID-19

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UPDATE: Team Penske announced in a statement Saturday afternoon that one of its team members tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week and “recovered without any further symptoms” after quarantining all week.

“Earlier this week, Team Penske had one of its team members report positive for COVID-19.  This employee has been in quarantine all week and has recovered without any further symptoms. Due to the team’s stringent protocols, only a few of our personnel had reason to quarantine and none of those individuals are experiencing any symptoms. The identities of those impacted, along with additional details, will not be released due to privacy concerns.”

Original story follows:

Stewart-Haas Racing confirmed Friday night that two employees at its Kannapolis, North Carolina, race shop had tested positive for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

The news initially was reported by Jeff Gluck and Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic. Citing multiple people familiar with the situation, their story reported a number of employees who could have come into contact with their infected co-workers were sent home Tuesday from SHR’s shop and hadn’t returned.

Stewart-Haas Racing sent a statement to multiple news outlets:

“Stewart-Haas Racing has experienced two positive COVID-19 test results, neither of which involve personnel who travel to race events. Robust protocols have been in place and continue to be followed diligently to mitigate the spread of the virus while maintaining the health and safety of all members of the organization and greater community.”

Stewart-Haas Racing is the first NASCAR team to confirm positive COVID-19 tests.

Since restarting its season May 17, NASCAR has conducted health screenings at races without testing for COVID-19.

NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell was asked this Monday about the sanctioning body’s protocols and whether anyone had tested positive for COVID-19.

“Everything has been going, actually, remarkably smooth, in terms of the protocols that have been set in place,” O’Donnell said. “We’ve certainly had some folks who may have presented some symptoms that we’ve turned away early. That’s up to them to disclose if there were any issues in terms of did someone have COVID or not, but I would say (the protocols have) worked 100% according to plan.

“We’ve not had challenges during an event where anything has come up where we’ve had to react during the hours that the garage was open. It’s been if there were any issues prior to someone entering the facility, which have been very minimal.

“We expect there will be some challenges. We need to continue to do our due diligence. We need to continue to wear our masks. We need to continue to follow the protocols.”

Friday 5: Despite 2 wins in a row, Toyota boss has sharp words for teams

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Although Toyota has won four of 12 Cup races this season, including the past two, the president of Toyota Racing Development used the words “embarrassing,” “dog crap” and “unacceptable” in discussing a recent race, and performance this season.

A third of the way through the Cup season, Toyota has not shown the strength it did last year in winning 19 of 36 points races and the championship.

David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development said this week that the manufacture’s advantage has declined.

“It’s not that we’ve fallen behind as much as they’ve caught up, and there’s no question that that new Chevrolet Camaro and the nose that is on that car has elevated their program,” Wilson said. “The fact that they’re only sitting on two wins right now is shocking to me. I always look at not necessarily the wins, but the potential, what is the true potential of your race cars and that being a function of raw speed. You could argue that we’re punching above our weight right now and they’re not running at their full potential.”

MORE: Toyota executive keen on keeping young Cup drivers

Wilson said even with wins in the last two Cup races, that’s not satisfying because of the performance of the Toyota cars.

“Coming off two wins, I still think we’re on our back foot a little bit,” he said. “In many respects I feel much better about our loss at Atlanta than our win at Martinsville. … The reason I say that is because at Atlanta we had three cars in the top five, we led laps, we had a couple of cars that were good enough to win that race.

David Wilson. (Photo by Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)

“In Martinsville, we embarrassed ourselves. This is one of the most embarrassing races I can remember for the Toyota family. We weren’t ready for the new tire that Goodyear brought to the racetrack. There’s circumstances behind it, but I’m not going to make excuses for it. We weren’t prepared for it.

“Our engine drivability was terrible. On pit lane and restarts. We could have had our worst finish since 2007 had it not been for Martin (Truex Jr.) hanging on long enough to get the car balanced correctly for the tires and putting himself, ultimately, in a position to win the race.

“I was encouraged at what we saw at (last weekend) Homestead. Where we need to be better is our consistency of how we unload from the haulers across the camp. We’ve had too many guys that are just dog crap for the first stage and use that time to try and catch up. That’s unacceptable. We should be better with the tools that we have, with the experience that we have, we should be better.

“There’s definitely room for improvement. Having said all of that, within our camp, within the JGR camp, we’re still positive because we know that our potential is there to lead laps and win races if we execute consistently on pit lane, if we do a better job with our sim, we will be in a position to win more races.”

Toyota is aligned with Joe Gibbs Racing, Leavine Family Family and Gaunt Brothers Racing. The drivers for JGR and Leavine all have scored significantly fewer points in the first stage compared to the second stage, illustrating Wilson’s frustration with how the teams begin the race.

Erik Jones has scored 12.5% of all his stage points in the first stage. Reigning Cup champion Kyle Busch has scored 29.6% of all his stage points in the first stage. Martin Truex Jr. has scored 37.8% of all his stage points in the first stage. Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin has scored 41.6% of all his stage points in the first stage.

To compare, Chase Elliott, who has a series-best 141 stage points this season, has scored 51.8% of all his stage points in the first stage. Joey Logano, who is tied with Truex for second with 127 stage points, has scored 49.6% of all his stage points in the first stage.

Among manufacturers, Fords have won six of the season’s first 12 races and Chevrolet has won twice this season.

Even if Toyota went on to win 12 Cup races this season, based on its current pace, it would be its fewest wins in a season since 2014. Toyota has averaged 15.6 Cup wins a season since 2015.

2. Looking ahead to 2021

With the Next Gen car’s debut pushed back to 2022, the sport will have an additional year with the current rules. That also means an additional year with a similar workforce. With the move to the Next Gen car, teams are expected to reduce their workforce because of limits on the cars.

Now, teams will keep a similar workforce through next year while finding sponsorship at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the economy.

David Wilson, president of the Toyota Racing Development, said next year will be among the key points discussed in a meeting among the manufacturers with NASCAR next week.

“Part of the agenda is going to be looking at ’21 and how do we as an industry help our teams bridge one more year that wasn’t in the plan,” Wilson said. “We already have enough teams in trouble and on the brink. The focus needs to be not selfishly on us as individual (manufacturers) but on the industry as a whole.”

3. Talladega changes

Rule changes for Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway will lead to slower speeds as NASCAR looks to reduce the chance of a crash similar to what Ryan Newman experienced at the end of the Daytona 500.

Among the changes is a reduction in the throttle body from 59/64” to  57/64” that is expected to reduce horsepower by 35-40. That would put teams around 510-515 horsepower this weekend.

NASCAR also has eliminated the aero ducts to help reduce the likelihood of tandem drafting.

One change not made was to the spoiler. John Probst, NASCAR senior vice president of innovation and racing development, explained why such a change wasn’t made.

“Certainly spoiler changes were looked at,” Probst told reporters this week. “… The items that were under consideration were largely centered around slowing (cars) down, which would usually mean a bigger spoiler.

The spoiler that we have on there now is as tall as we can get them without putting significant bending … on the deck lid to the point at which we’d be worried structurally. From that standpoint, getting larger wasn’t really a good option. The more direct knob for us to turn to slow the cars down is directly to the horsepower.”

Another change is the addition of slip tape to the rear bumper. The contact from Ryan Blaney‘s car to the rear of Newman’s car triggered Newman’s crash.

“We’re trying to make the rear bumper of the car being hit like ice, where they slide across, don’t contact and start influencing the car in front laterally, left to right, if you will,” Probst said.

4. COVID-19 protocols

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, was asked this week if the sport has had anyone test positive for the coronavirus and about the status of protocols NASCAR has in place for each race weekend.

“Everything has been going, actually, remarkably smooth, in terms of the protocols that have been set in place,” O’Donnell said. “We’ve certainly had some folks who may have presented some symptoms that we’ve turned away early. That’s up to them to disclose if there were any issues in terms of did someone have COVID or not, but I would say (the protocols have) worked 100% according to plan.

“We’ve not had challenges during an event where anything has come up where we’ve had to react during the hours that the garage was open. It’s been if there were any issues prior to someone entering the facility, which have been very minimal.

“We expect there will be some challenges. We need to continue to do our due diligence. We need to continue to wear our masks. We need to continue to follow the protocols.”

5. Leader of the pack

Team Penske has won seven of the last 11 Cup races at Talladega Superspeedway, a 63.6% winning percentage.

Brad Keselowski has won four times during that stretch. Joey Logano has three wins during that time, and Ryan Blaney won last year’s playoff race. 

The races not won by a Team Penske driver during that stretch were won by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola and Chase Elliott.

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