NASCAR has announced it will return on May 17 following the suspension of its season due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) global pandemic.
The resumption of the NASCAR season means it will become the first major American sports competition to return since the shut-down of all leagues in mid-March.
The season will return without fans in attendance with a stretch of seven races over an 11-day span at two tracks, Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, Steve O’Donnell, said NASCAR remains committed to running a full 36-race season, but no other races have been scheduled past May 27 at this stage.
“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,” O’Donnell said.
“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,” he said.
Speedway Motorsports CEO and president, Marcus Smith, said there is a large commitment to ensuring the health and safety of all involved with the return of NASCAR.
“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,” Smith said.
NASCAR said there would be no practice for each race and the only qualifying will be for the Coca-Cola 600.
Seven-time Cup champion, Jimmie Johnson, said it’s unfortunate but important fans cannot attend the races.
“Safety is obviously the most important thing and I know NASCAR has been working to ensure that we have the necessary safety precautions in place,” Johnson said in a statement on Twitter.
“While it’s unfortunate that there won’t be fans in the stands, it’s obviously necessary at this time,” he said.