The NASCAR season was postponed in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The original goal was to return to action in Martinsville, but the season was postponed even further. Now, however, stock car racing is officially set to return.
According to a video posted by FOX Sports, the NASCAR season will continue on May 17. The first race will be held at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. This will kick off a condensed schedule that will feature seven races in an 11-day span. Only two tracks will be used during this altered schedule, starting with Darlington and races on May 17, 19 (Xfinity Series) and 20.
NASCAR is back. Sunday, May 17 on FOX. pic.twitter.com/Jc2b5h3bzA— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) May 5, 2020
Following the stint at Darlington, NASCAR will head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for four more races. The Cup Series will take place on May 24 and 27 while the Xfinity Series (May 25) and Gander Truck Series (May 26) will fill out the schedule. Fans will not be allowed to attend any of the races at Darlington or Charlotte.
"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," NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O'Donnell said in a statement. "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."
There will be health and safety concerns at these races due to the coronavirus, and NASCAR officials have been working with public health officials, medical experts and local, state and federal officials to create a comprehensive plan for both tracks. Both Darlington and Charlotte will host one-day events in order to prevent any stays in hotels or extended time in local communities. Race team staff members will also be required to wear protective equipment and will undergo health screenings. Finally, there will be no practice sessions for any races and only the Coca-Cola 600 will have a qualifying lap.
There have not been any races announced beyond the end of May. NASCAR officials have made it clear on multiple occasions that the plan is to hold the entire 36-race Cup Series season in 2020. Further events and schedules at tracks around the country will be revealed at a later date.