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Real NASCAR Racing is Back with Accelerated Schedule

The virtual NASCAR races of recent weeks have been fun to watch, but real racing is back, sorta. Announced in a press release today, NASCAR will return to racing beginning May 17th. So there are still three weeks until the in real-life race day greets us again. After that, the schedule is accelerated. 

Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR
Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR | Hendrick Motorsports

In a surprising move today, NASCAR officially announced that beginning May 17th, race teams will again begin competing. But, in an effort to catch up, a lot of racing is going to be done in a very short time. The first ten days on the schedule include 7 races from multiple series. Of those seven races, four will be for the Cup Series. Two races will be for the Xfinity Series. One race will be for the Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series. All of the races will be run at Darlington or Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The first real race

The Cup teams will re-start the season at Darlington Raceway with the first race of the reconfigured schedule. The 400 miler will be Sunday, May 17th, at 3:30 pm. However, if you were planning on quickly purchasing tickets for the event, you are going to be disappointed. This is the first phase of returning to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic. So, the first few races of the re-started season will be without fans in attendance. As time moves on and officials feel the health crisis is manageable, they will update the fans to let them know when it is possible to return to the bleachers and watch their favorite team. For now, however, let’s just call it a soft open. 

Martin Truex Jr. celebrating a NASCAR Championship
Martin Truex Jr. | Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The re-started schedule is below.

Schedule to re-start the NASCAR season
The accelerated schedule for the re-start of the NASCAR season after the Coronavirus pandemic pause | NASCAR.com

All the details

There was a lot of detail provided in the press release. So, it is listed below.

“Following thorough collaboration with public health officials, medical experts, and state and federal officials, NASCAR has implemented a comprehensive health and safety plan. In accordance with CDC, OSHA, and state and local government recommendations, nearly every aspect of how the event is conducted will be significantly modified, including:”

  • “One-day shows;”
  • “Mandated 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.”

“As NASCAR works towards the execution of these events, the sanctioning body will continue to work with state and local authorities based on trends and local restrictions.”

“In-race competition procedures remain largely unchanged, though NASCAR will eliminate practice for all events during this opening return slate, as well as qualifying for all events except the Coca-Cola 600.”

Television coverage a part of the plan

As was planned with the prior events, the new events will be televised. Fox is the primary coverage team, and they had their own comments to make,

“We are excited to welcome back the FOX NASCAR season to our airwaves to provide a return to live sports, a move toward normalcy and a much-needed distraction during these unprecedented times,” said Mark Silverman, President, National Networks, FOX Sports. “While we are thrilled to return to the race track, the health and safety of our employees and all race participants is our top priority. We will continue working in lockstep with our partners at NASCAR and the race tracks to follow all national and local health guidelines.”

A lot of racing is about to happen in a short time frame as NASCAR begins to take baby steps to return to normal. Fans will again begin to see their favorite teams starting to turn laps. It is only a few weeks away. It is without fans in attendance. But it is real racing. In real life. Soon fans will be yelling, “Boogity Boogity Boogity” again, even if only at the television screens.