NASCAR confirms return to racing at Darlington and Charlotte

NASCAR confirms return to racing at Darlington and Charlotte


NASCAR confirms return to racing at Darlington and Charlotte


NASCAR will resume its season with Cup Series competition on Sunday, May 17, at Darlington Raceway. Races will take place without fans in the grandstands.

“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,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “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.”

NASCAR will run seven races in 11 days across its three national series.

After hosting the Cup Series on May 17, Darlington will be the site of a return to Xfinity Series racing on Tuesday, May 19. The Cup Series will then run a second race at Darlington on Wednesday, May 20.

“It’s an honor for Darlington Raceway to resume the 2020 NASCAR season in just a few short weeks with three races in four days,” said track president Kerry Tharp. “Darlington is one of the most iconic and historic tracks in the sport and will be a tremendous backdrop when NASCAR returns to racing. We certainly appreciate the support from our state’s leadership in working with NASCAR to allow us to host these events.”

Charlotte Motor Speedway will host all three series beginning on Sunday, May 24 with the Coca-Cola 600. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper gave his blessing to hold the event earlier this week if health conditions did not deteriorate.

The Xfinity Series will run Monday, May 25, with the Truck Series competing on Tuesday, May 26. A second Cup Series race will then run at Charlotte on Wednesday, May 27.

“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,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith. “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.

“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. 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 added. “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.”

As well as an absence of fans, NASCAR crews will have to adapt to strict guidelines in preparing their cars for racing. Matthew Thacker/Motorsport Images

NASCAR has eliminated practice and qualifying for all events except the Coca-Cola 600.

Following guidelines from the CDC, OSHA and state and local government officials, the events will be one-day shows, there is a mandated use of personal protective equipment throughout the event, health screenings will be done for all individuals before entering the facility, while inside, and exiting the facility, social distancing protocols must be followed, and there will be strict limits on the number of personnel granted access to each facility.

“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 racetrack, 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 racetracks to follow all national and local health guidelines.”

Cars have not been on track since March 8 at Phoenix Raceway because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought a halt to racing and all other professional sports. Since then, NASCAR has been monitoring the ongoing situation while working with local and state government officials to revise its schedule.

Eight NASCAR Cup Series races have been postponed. Both the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series have also had races postponed — five for the Truck Series and six for the Xfinity Series.

The opening slate of races is as follows:

Date Series Track Distance TV Start (ET)
Sunday, May 17 Cup Darlington 400 miles FOX 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 19 Xfinity Darlington 200 miles FS1 8 p.m.
Wednesday, May 20 Cup Darlington 500 km FS1 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 24 Cup Charlotte 600 miles FOX 6 p.m.
Monday, May 25 Xfinity Charlotte 300 miles FS1 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 26 Trucks Charlotte 200 miles FS1 8 p.m.
Wednesday, May 27 Cup Charlotte 500 km FS1 8 p.m.