Pandemic Updates : NASCAR Hopes to Hold All 36 Cup Races

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 12 2020

Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway race has been canceled. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Barry Cantrell)

(Editor’s note: This story will be updated as the Coronavirus pandemic and its effect on auto racing evolves. It was last updated on March 25.)

Auto racing has joined stick-and-ball sports in interrupting their schedules in light of the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The following is the latest information available:

NASCAR: The series announced on Tuesday, March 17, that its hope is that a full 36-race schedule will be completed in the 2020 season.

NASCAR announced Monday that races through at least May 3 will have to be rescheduled.

During a teleconference on Tuesday, NASCAR president Steve Phelps said, “For us, we have a commitment to our fans that we’re going to run all the races. We have a commitment to all our competitors that we run all the races. We have a commitment to the stakeholders broadly, that we’re going to run all the races.

“We are going to do everything in our power to get these races in. If there are other variables that happen that would suggest we can’t do that, we’ll look at those at that time.’’

Phelps said midweek races, doubleheader weekends and racing during what would have been a two-week pause already written into the schedule for the 2020 Summer Olympics are being considered.

“At this particular point, we would like to finish the season at Phoenix and keep the Playoffs portion [of the schedule] intact,’’ Phelps said. “With that said, it will require a lot of different opportunities for us to look at. We’re in the process of doing that.

“No specifics about midweek races. I’ve heard about doubleheaders, different things. At this particular point a lot of things on the table for us to look at, working with our race teams, working with our race tracks to make sure the things that we’re putting on the table are feasible for us to do.’’

Holding events without fans in attendance is also being considered.

Brought into the conversation, Phelps said, will be the two broadcasting companies that cover racing – Fox Sports and NBC Sports.

“At some point soon, we hope to all get back to finding that escape that our fans are all looking for, in our case, getting back to racing,’’ Phelps said. “We are working with FOX and with NBC to understand what windows might be available. That will come as we develop this schedule. It is complex, for sure. But both partners have shown great willingness to try to work with us…to find windows to get back to racing in our case.’’

Phelps allowed that there have been discussions even about broadcasting alternatives such as eNASCAR and iRacing.


The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced schedule updates for three 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge events.
  • The Acura Sports Car Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio has been moved to the weekend of Sept. 25-27, 2020. It was originally scheduled for the weekend of May 1-3.
  • The IMSA Monterey SportsCar Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has been moved up one weekend to run on Sept. 4-6. It was originally scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 11-13. This date adjustment was made to accommodate IMSA competitors planning to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which now will run on Sept. 19-20.
  • The 23rd annual Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta has been moved back one week and now will run Oct. 14-17 to provide teams a more balanced schedule as the season comes to its conclusion. The original dates of the event were Oct. 7-10.
These three event date changes are in addition to the previously announced reschedule of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, which now is set for Nov. 11-14. Previously purchased tickets for all four events will be valid on the new dates.

INDYCAR: INDYCAR announced last that it has postponed multiple events, starting with this weekend’s in St. Petersburg, Fla.

However, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway says it intends to keep the museum located in the facility’s infield will remain open.

A statement released Tuesday read: IMS Museum staff are not only taking common-sense personal preventative measures – such as frequent hand washing, avoiding close contact with others, and staying home if feeling ill – but are also working as a team to ensure the Museum is cleaned on an ongoing basis, and prepared for visitors. This includes:
•Hand-sanitizing stations, which are in place around the Museum and regularly restocked.
•Every surface frequently touched by guests – our Welcome desk, IMS Tours desk, railings, IMS Hall of Fame kiosks, glass display cases, bus seats and windows, restroom countertops and faucets, water fountains, and other high-traffic areas – are thoroughly cleaned on an ongoing basis.
•Attractions that many guests use each day, such as our racing simulator and photo car, remain open but receive regular, thorough treatment with Microban 24-hour disinfectant.
Scheduled IMS Museum Events Remain a “Go” Until Further Notice
At this time, all scheduled IMS Museum events – the Distinguished Speaker Series (April 1, May 20), IMS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Dinner presented by Firestone on May 21, our Hall of Fame/Indianapolis 500 Winners autograph session on May 21, our members-only Fuel Up Fridays, the Chevy Corvette Pace Car Homecoming (Indy 500 Qualifications weekend), and the Historic Racing Exhibition (May 21-23) – will take place. Any changes to the schedule will be shared with our constituents promptly. The Museum and IMS Track Tours remain open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) daily as well.

Last week, INDYCAR said in a statement, “After careful consideration, including regular communication with our event promoters, health officials, and the city administrations in our respective race markets regarding COVID-19, we have made the decision to cancel all NTT INDYCAR Series events through April. This begins with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg which was to begin today and run through Sunday, March 15 and continues through the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas which was to take place April 24-26.

“Although we are disappointed to delay the start to this INDYCAR season and will miss our incredible fans who support us each year in St. Petersburg, Birmingham, Long Beach, and Austin, the safety of our fans, participants, staff, partners, and media will always remain our top priority.  We will continue to coordinate with public health experts and government officials as we determine the appropriate plans for resuming our schedule.”



NHRA officials announced  revisions to the 2020 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. The series is tentatively planned to resume June 5-7 with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. The season will conclude with the crowning of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series champions November 13-15 at the Auto Club Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
The revised schedule will consist of 19 total events, with 17 of those events being contested when the series resumes in June. Six of these events will be condensed to two-day competition schedules for the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series classes due to economic and logistical factors. As a result of the compressed schedule points will not be reset after the U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway. NHRA has held two make-up dates on the calendar in case there are further delays.
Tentative schedule announcements for the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Series, Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Series and Samtech.edu NHRA Factory Stock Showdown Series will be announced soon. All NHRA-sanctioned drag racing series competition is still suspended until further notice.
June 5-7
Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals PSC/PSM Gainesville, Fla.
June 12-14
*Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals PSC/PSM Houston
June 19-21
*NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals PSC/PSM Bristol, Tenn.
June 26-28
*Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals PSC/PSM Norwalk, Ohio
July 9-12
Route 66 NHRA Nationals Chicago
July 17-19
Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals PSM Denver
July 24-26
NHRA Sonoma Nationals PSC/PSM Sonoma, Calif.
July 31-Aug. 2
*NHRA Northwest Nationals PSC/PSM Seattle
Aug. 13-16
Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Brainerd, Minn.
Aug. 21-23
*Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals PSC Topeka, Kan.
Sept. 3-7
NHRA U.S. Nationals PSC/PSM Indianapolis
Sept. 11-13
*Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals PSC/PSM Reading, Pa.
Sept. 18-20
NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals PSC/PSM Charlotte
Sept. 25-27
Make Up Date If Needed Gainesville, Fla.
Oct. 2-4
AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals PSC/PSM St. Louis
Oct. 9-11
Make Up Date If Needed Houston
Oct. 15-18
AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals PSC/PSM Dallas
Oct. 29-Nov. 1
Dodge NHRA Nationals PSC/PSM Las Vegas
Nov. 12-15
Auto Club NHRA Finals PSC/PSM Pomona, Calif.
| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 12 2020
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