For the first time since early March, the top stock car racing series in the world will be back on the track Sunday at one of its long-standing race sites.
NASCAR is back racing for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak and at the Darlington Motor Speedway in the small South Carolina town that has hosted stock car racing events for over 50 years will be front and center.
It is a most unusual resumption of the stock car season after they had already completed their most important race, the famed Daytona 500 in February with veteran Denny Hamlin winning in a photo finish over Ryan Blaney.
Then the series moved out west and held races in Las Vegas, Southern California, and Phoenix before the shutdown of all sports and organized activities in the U.S. happened the weekend of March 13 – 15.
Late last week, on the latest edition of the “3 Dog Thursday” podcast, host T J Rives helped preview the resumption of NASCAR with their outstanding Fox Sports Studio race host, Shannon Spake (@ShannonSpake).
Powered by RedCircle
Shannon will anchor the network’s coverage leading up to the most unusual start of the Darlington 400 mile race at 3:30 Eastern Time.
It’s a surreal situation for the drivers and their teams. This as they have all been tested for Coronavirus and isolated from each other leading up to the resumption event. There will be no fans allowed inside the raceway to watch.
Further, from a competition standpoint, there there would have been no qualifying laps and also importantly, no practice laps for drivers to get used to the track this weekend. The drivers will simply show up with their vehicles, crank them up, run a couple of warm-up laps and then start the race. Look for possible early crashes and excitement due to this.
Spake also talked about on the podcast that the broadcast crews for FOX will be spread out at their Charlotte headquarters of NASCAR’ on Fox coverage, as well as other locations besides the track in the practicing of social distancing guidelines to cover the race.
The race will mark the return of multi-time NASCAR winner Ryan Newman, who was seriously injured in a spectacular crash on the final lap in Daytona in February. Newman spent three days in the hospital before making a full recovery a few weeks ago.
In addition to the other top race names like: former multi-time time Series champions Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch, and young star Joey Logano who won the Las Vegas and Phoenix races before the stoppage, former NASCAR Series champion Matt Kenseth is also coming out of retirement to race for Chip Ganassi Racing, starting in this event.
Also, if you enjoy the sport and are looking forward the opportunity to wager in advance, or during live racing, you will get plenty of opportunity. This, as NASCAR announced an unprecedented compressed schedule over the next two weeks, in which they will race again on Wednesday night at the same track in Darlington, South Carolina. Then, they hold the traditional 600-mile race Memorial Day, Sunday night in Charlotte. And, finally, come back and race another Monster Energy Cup series event three nights later on Wednesday in Charlotte. Four Races in 10 days is unheard of for NASCAR.
Also late last week NASCAR announced they adjusted and updated their schedule with races at some of its most famed tracks that had their races postponed the last two months like in Bristol Tennessee, Martinsville Virginia, and Talladega Alabama. The full new race schedule is shown here.
One more note about the schedule: NASCAR had already decided before this season to adjust some of its most popular races and their dates. That included the moving of the traditional massively popular July 4th weekend race in Daytona to late August, and make it as one of the playoff events for the sport to end its season. Also the traditional August race at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway will now be on July 4th weekend instead of Daytona, on the new slate.
The good news is, that at least for now, racing on the track is back starting Sunday