The NASCAR season has been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but a return to racing was teased by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Now the season resuming is becoming more likely with each passing day. A tentative May schedule is being formulated, which heavily features tracks in North and South Carolina.
According to NBC Sports, NASCAR is expected to resume the Cup Series season on May 17 at Darlington. This race at the South Carolina track would kick off a stretch of five races in two weeks, including another event at Darlington on May 20. NASCAR has traditionally held Cup Series races only on Sunday, but the governing body would need to make up some time that was lost during the postponement. The revamped schedule would include mid-week races and would not allow any fans to attend until it was deemed safe.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper stated on Tuesday that "unless health conditions go down," Charlotte Motor Speedway will host the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24. He also revealed that NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway had submitted safety plans to the state and that the state had responded with suggestions. If Coca-Cola 600 takes place without any issues, the racing teams would return to Charlotte Motor Speedway once again on May 27.
The fifth race on the schedule would take place at Martinsville on the final weekend of May. This event is currently in-flux due to Virginia's stay-at-home order. However, the state has reportedly considered easing the rule for counties that have very few positive coronavirus cases. Martinsville Speedway is in one such area that could be impacted by the rule change.
Removing fans from the speedways would take care of one concern, but another still exists in the number of team members required to ensure a smooth race. The altered schedule includes changes that address that potential issue. Each team would only allow limited team members to be on hand, approximately 10 in total. Additionally, there would not be practice sessions. The drivers would only take part in a qualifying lap and then the actual race.
While Texas was initially considered to be a promising destination for NASCAR's return, many teams and their owners preferred to hold the next few events within a short drive of the Charlotte area. The majority of Cup teams are based in the area, which means that the five races on the altered schedule could take place as day trips. The teams could avoid staying in hotels and flying to the destinations.