NASCAR returning to the track: Darlington, Charlotte hosting races beginning May 17
It’s official: NASCAR is coming back, with a return set for Sunday, May 17, at Darlington, which will also host a Cup Series race on Wednesday, May 20, with the 61st running of the Coca-Cola 600 set for Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 24.
Charlotte will also host a second, mid-week race, on Wednesday, May 27, and there will be a mix of Xfinity and Truck series races at the two tracks in between.
The action will be the first for NASCAR since mid-March, when the sports world was brought to a screeching halt as states went on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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,” Speedway Motorsports President and Chief Executive Officer Marcus Smith said. “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.
Due to continued restrictions on public gatherings during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the races will take place without spectators in attendance.
NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway have developed a comprehensive plan reviewed by state and local health agencies to protect the health and safety of the competitors, crew members, employees and broadcast crews that will produce the race. The plan includes limiting overall personnel, pre-event screening, social distancing on site, using personal protective equipment and sanitizing areas of the facility both before and during the event.
“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,” Smith said. “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.
“Like our fans, we are disappointed that they cannot join us at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the race, but we understand these are unprecedented circumstances dictated by what’s best for the health and safety of the general public,” Smith said. “We ask every race fan to tune in with us to FOX to celebrate another historic Coca-Cola 600 and salute our U.S. Armed Forces on Memorial Day Weekend.”
Also included on NASCAR’s revised race event schedule without spectators, the May 23 Alsco 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series Race has been postponed to Monday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m., while the May 15 N.C. Education Lottery 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race has been postponed to Tuesday, May 26, at 8:00 p.m.
Both events will be telecast on FSI. The May 22 General Tire 150 ARCA race and May 23 United Rentals Patriot Nationals World of Outlaws race have been postponed to yet-to-be-determined dates.
Story by Chris Graham