NASCAR Cup Series teams like Joe Gibbs Racing spent Friday discussing the unchartered territory the sport is in for the foreseeable future.
Friday morning, NASCAR officials decided to postpone its races this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway as well as next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Some teams were already headed to Hampton, Georgia, when told to turn around and head home.
For now, NASCAR is next scheduled to race on March 29 in Texas. However, Jimmy Makar, the senior vice president of racing operations at Joe Gibbs Racing, said realistically, no one knows how long this hiatus will last.
“We know we’ve got two weeks,” said Makar on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I think if everyone is realistic with what’s happening, we haven’t seen the peak of this thing yet, so it’s probably a pretty safe bet we’re going to go a few more weeks than just the two.
“So, we are preparing (cars) to go the third and fourth weeks out right now. And once we get all that ready and prepared and if (NASCAR) announces we don’t race that third week, we’ll probably sit people home and wait to see what happens.”
Teams all across the sport have been closing their doors to the public, and Gibbs likely isn’t the only team that has already instituted a work-from-home mandate. Everyone who can work from home, has been told to do so and at Gibbs, while there are team members working on cars, it’s on a smaller scale so the organization can stay as prepared as possible.
“But we’ll do all we can to try to do our part to curb the spread this virus,” said Makar. “Hopefully, we get it done sooner than later.”
All teams can do is be ready to react to whatever changes occur. Just as they did over the last few days when the situation for Atlanta went from racing as scheduled, to racing without fans, to not racing at all.
There are many details that teams must deal with, however. And not just when it comes to their fleet of cars. Makar admitted if the hiatus goes longer than two or three weeks, then decisions have to be made on hotel rooms, salaries, time off, and how to pay employees when they aren’t working (i.e., racing).
At some point, Makar believes the team will be caught up enough on their race preparation, and the organization won’t know what else to work on. Even though Gibbs officials are tossing around different “what if” scenarios, Makar said it’s hard to predict what could happen as everyone is going to be operating on a week-to-week basis.
“We’ll get through this and come out the other end, and we’ll be racing sooner than later and business as usual,” he said. “We’ll work together through this and do what we need to do to help make this thing pass as quickly as possible.”