Gov. Roy Cooper

NASCAR set to resume racing May 17 at Darlington Raceway with Cup Series

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NASCAR announced Thursday that it plans to resume racing May 17 with the Cup Series racing at Darlington Raceway. That event will be the first of seven races among three series between May 17-27 and starts the NASCAR return.

No fans will be allowed at any of those events.

Here is the schedule NASCAR announced:

May 17 (Sunday): Cup teams will run a 400-mile race at Darlington Raceway. Race will be at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

May 19 (Tuesday): Xfinity teams will run a 200-mile race at Darlington Raceway. Race will be at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.

May 20 (Wednesday): Cup teams will return to Darlington to run a 500-kilometer race. Race will be at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

May 24 (Sunday): Cup teams will compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Race will be at 6 p.m. ET on FOX.

May 25 (Monday): Xfinity teams will run 300 miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Race will be at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

May 26 (Tuesday): Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series teams will run 200 miles at Charlotte. Race will be at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.

May 27 (Wednesday): Cup teams return to race 500 kilometers at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Race will be at 8 p.m. ET on FS1

NASCAR will eliminate practice for all events between May 17-27, as well as qualifying for all events except the Coca-Cola 600. Each event will be a one-day show.

“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.”

Adjustments NASCAR return will make

In accordance with CDC, OSHA and state and local government recommendations, NASCAR stated that nearly every aspect of how the event is conducted will be significantly modified, including:

# Use of personal protective equipment throughout the event.

# Health screenings for all individuals prior to entering the facility, while inside the facility and exiting the facility.

# Social distancing protocols throughout the event.

# Strict limits on the number of individuals who are granted access into each facility.

NASCAR did not provide details about any other races beyond the Darlington events. Darlington Raceway announced that the Southern 500 will still take place Sept. 4-6, meaning that Darlington’s races in May will replace other events. 

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued a statement about Darlington hosting NASCAR’s return: “As our nation restarts, I can think of no better place for NASCAR to drop the green flag than at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. Team South Carolina stands ready to help NASCAR restart the season at Darlington Raceway with three races next month that can be enjoyed by fans from home on television, radio, and online.”

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper stated Tuesday that “unless health conditions go down,” the state will allow Charlotte Motor Speedway to host the May 24 Coca-Cola 600.

“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 in a statement. “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.

All-Star Race date is still TBD

Charlotte Motor Speedway announced that the All-Star Race has been postponed to a yet-to-be determined date. Smith said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “the plan” is for Charlotte to host the Roval race in the playoffs as scheduled.

NASCAR last raced March 8 with the Cup Series at Phoenix Raceway. NASCAR postponed races at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Richmond Raceway, Talladega Superspeedway, Dover International Speedway and Martinsville Speedway because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Charlotte Motor Speedway announced that Coca-Cola 600 and NASCAR All-Star Race weekend ticket holders on file may choose to receive an event credit for the full amount paid plus an additional 20 percent, or choose to receive a full refund of their purchase price. The event credit can be applied toward any admissions, including, but not limited to, grandstand seating, infield tickets, camping, fan hospitality and pit passes. The 120-percent event credit can be used during the remaining 2020 or 2021 seasons for a NASCAR sanctioned event at any Speedway Motorsports owned track, subject to availability.

NASCAR’s May schedule evolving, N.C. approves Coca-Cola 600 race

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper stated Tuesday that “unless health conditions go down,” the state will allow Charlotte Motor Speedway to host the May 24 Coca-Cola 600.

That race is part of a developing schedule NASCAR is compiling for the resumption of the season. NASCAR is expected to resume the Cup season May 17 at Darlington Raceway, starting a stretch of five races in two weeks, NBC Sports has confirmed. That schedule would include mid-week races. Autoweek first reported what races NASCAR is looking at running to resume the season

No fans are expected to be allowed at those events.

NASCAR’s schedule has been ever-changing based on a variety of factors from local and state ordinances to readiness of Cup teams to compete. The upcoming events are expected to be one-day shows with a limited number of team members, approximately 10, allowed. Practice is not expected to be held. It is expected to be qualify and race or race only.

The latest version of NASCAR’s schedule has the season resuming May 17 at Darlington Raceway with a 400-mile race. Teams would return to Darlington for another race on May 20, a Wednesday.

Gov. Cooper said last week that state health officials would have to approve Charlotte Motor Speedway hosting NASCAR races. Gov. Cooper said Tuesday that NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway had submitted safety plans and the state had responded with suggestions.

“We believe, unless health conditions go down, that we can have the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend in Charlotte,” Gov. Cooper said.

In a statement, Marcus Smith, Speedway Motorsports President and CEO, stated: “On behalf of our team at Charlotte Motor Speedway, I’d like to thank Gov. Cooper and all of our state and local government officials who are working with us to get NASCAR back on track with the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend where it belongs. We’ll have more details to share soon in conjunction with NASCAR’s release of a revised event schedule.”

After the May 24 Coca-Cola 600, the proposed schedule would have Cup teams racing again at Charlotte on May 27, a Wednesday.

Next on the schedule would be Martinsville Speedway on the final weekend of the month.

Virginia has a stay-at-home order through June 10 but there have been suggestions of easing those restrictions in areas of the state that have limited COVID-19 cases. The county that includes Martinsville Speedway and other counties nearby have had limited number of cases, according to state statistics. Easing such restrictions could allow NASCAR to race, minus fans, at Martinsville.

The proposed schedule is centered around tracks near the Charlotte region where most Cup teams are based. Teams prefer to run at races within a short drive of the Charlotte area so they can go to the track and return in one day without needing to stay at a hotel or fly.

NASCAR has stated that it intends to run the remaining 32 Cup races this season. Teams need all those races to run to collect sponsor money, prize money and TV money. Without races, teams have not brought in money. Some teams have applied for money through governmental programs.

“I think it’s really critical to have (races) within driving distance” of race shops, car owner Richard Childress told NBC Sports last week. “It’s all about being smart and being cautious and being aware of everyone around you.”

With the current schedule showing NASCAR running its first two races back at Darlington Raceway and the expectation that Darlington will still host the first race of the playoffs in September, then it would mean that the Darlington May races would replace other events on the schedule to maintain the same number of races. NASCAR has not announced such changes.

N.C. Senators want NASCAR to race at Charlotte minus fans

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Five North Carolina Republican senators are calling on Gov. Roy Cooper to allow NASCAR to race at Charlotte Motor Speedway without fans.

The May 16 All-Star Race and May 24 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway are the next scheduled Cup races after NASCAR postponed the May 9 Cup race at Martinsville Speedway on Friday.

North Carolina is under a stay-at-home order through April 29 that has closed race shops. The North Carolina order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to stay at least six feet away from each other. The order requires all residents to stay at home except for essential activities. The order states: “non-essential business and operations must cease.”

In a statement from Gov. Cooper’s spokesperson Monday: “Governor Cooper knows the importance of NASCAR to our state and he’s already been talking with track and team owners about how we could potentially restart racing. It’s too soon to predict specific decisions about future sporting events but any plan would prioritize public health and safety and preventing spread of the virus.”

In a press release on Sunday, N.C. Sen. Todd Johnson (Union County) states: “People are going stir-crazy with very few live sports underway, and allowing NASCAR racing in Charlotte would be a good first step toward returning to some semblance of normalcy. Gov. Cooper should permit fan-less racing.”

N.C. Sen. Paul Newton, who represents Cabarrus County, which is home to Charlotte Motor Speedway and some race teams, said in the press release: “NASCAR has already demonstrated it can safely run races without fans while practicing social distancing. Gov. Cooper should allow racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway.”

N.C. Sen. Vickie Sawyer, who represents Iredell County, home to some race teams, said in the press release: “We should be looking at every safe example of a way to partially reopen society, and fan-less NASCAR racing seems like a simple step that Gov. Cooper can take right now.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis supports a fan-less NASCAR race in his state, saying on April 14 that people are “starved” for entertainment.

“I think if NASCAR does a race and can televise it without having a large crowd, I think that’s a good thing,” DeSantis told reporters.

“People are chomping at the bit. If you think about it, we have never had a period like this in modern American history where you’ve had so little new content, particularly in the sporting realm. I mean, we are watching reruns from like the early 2000s.”

NASCAR stated on Friday that it intends to run all 36 races, “with a potential return to racing without fans in attendance in May at a date and location to be determined.” NASCAR has postponed eight races because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

N.C. Gov.: ‘Our new normal’ may have no in-person crowds for awhile

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper explained Wednesday what it would take to ease stay-at-home order restrictions in the state and said that “in our new normal … the only sporting events or concerts that you may be able to watch for awhile will have no in-person crowds.”

With most NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Gander & RV Outdoors Truck Series teams based in North Carolina, Gov. Cooper’s orders will impact them.

As of Wednesday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported that the state had 5,123 laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 out of 67,827 completed tests. There have been 117 deaths in North Carolina from COVID-19.

Gov. Cooper issued a stay-at-home order to begin March 30 and go through April 29. Race shops have been closed since.

MORE: Dr. Anthony Fauci on how sports can return: Regular testing, no fans

NASCAR postponed seven Cup races through May 3 at Dover International Speedway. The next Cup race scheduled is May 9 at Martinsville Speedway but Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order from March 30 through June 10. That order prohibits “all public and private in-person gatherings of more than 10 individuals. … This includes parties, celebrations, religious and other social events, whether they occur indoor or outdoor.”

The next NASCAR Cup races after Martinsville would be the All-Star Race on May 16 and the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. There also is a Truck race scheduled All-Star weekend and Xfinity Series race the day before the 600.

Gov. Cooper tweeted Wednesday: “Our efforts to flatten the curve are working. And that means we have saved lives. The Stay at Home orders are working, but we know our current situation is not sustainable in the long run. I know people are wondering, where do we go from here?

“This virus is going to be with us until there is a vaccine, which may be a year or more away. As we ease restrictions, we are going to enter a new normal. We want to get back to work while at the same time preventing that spike that’ll overwhelm our hospitals with patients.”

Here’s what he said Wednesday:

 

NASCAR teams impacted by North Carolina stay at home order

Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP
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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced a stay at home order for the entire state of North Carolina, beginning at 5 p.m. ET Monday because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The order is for 30 days.

The move impacts all NASCAR teams based in North Carolina.

“These are tough directives, but I need you to take them seriously,” Gov. Cooper said in afternoon news briefing.

MORE: N.C. Governor enlists Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson for COVID-19 PSA

MORE: North Carolina stay at home order

The order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to stay at least six feet away from each other. The order requires all residents to stay at home except for essential activities. The order states: “non-essential business and operations must cease.”

The order also states that among the definitions for an essential business and operation is “Businesses that meet Social Distancing Requirements. Businesses, not-for-profit organizations or educational institutions that conduct operations while maintaining Social Distancing Requirements:

a. Between and among its employees; and

b. Between and among employees and customers except at the point of sale or purchase.”

Mecklenburg County and Cabarrus County, which are home to such race teams as Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and JTG Daugherty Racing, were already under a stay at home order through April 16.

By the end of the week, more than 20 states will have issued stay at home orders, including California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Ohio.