The news all NASCAR fans were waiting to hear came this past Thursday when the sanctioning body announced the next race would be held on Sunday, May 17 at Darlington Raceway. This 400-mile race would be televised on FOX and begin at 3:30 p.m., Eastern time. Then came the rest. There would be no fans in the stands. I would assume the network’s media people would be attending, but it’s not clear about print and other media. There will be strict rules dealing with social distancing, of course.
The rest of the initial schedule is equally different. The next race is an Xfinity Series race two days later on May 19 at Darlington. The third race would be a Cup race on Wednesday, March 20 and would be 500 km in length. Both races will air on FSI. The Xfinity race would be broadcasted at 8 p.m. and the race at 7:30 p.m. Then, the stagiest thing happens.
Four days after the second Darlington Cup race, we get the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24 at 6 p.m. on FOX and the Xfinity race the next day at 7:30 p.m. on FS1. A Gander Outdoors race would be the next day, March 26, also on FS1 and another 500km Cup race on May 27 at 8 p.m. on FS1.
The reason given was the two tracks are in proximity to most team’s Charlotte-area shops. Count them, folks. That is seven races at those two tracks in 8 days. I cannot imagine this is going to be easy for drivers, teams, and media. All would be run with empty bleachers. This cannot be normal, and results would probably not be what fans are used to seeing, but as someone who lost interest in the computer races, I welcome this.
I am proud of NASCAR keeping fans teams safe with these measures. It will be interesting how fans, teams, and tracks react. Four races at Charlotte and three at Darlington with the promise of the Southern 500 on Labor Day? Stay tuned.