2021 Daytona 500 to have limited fans

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 17: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, leads during the NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in Florida and elsewhere, NASCAR announced Wednesday that the 2021 Daytona 500 will limit fans in attendance.

The 2020 Daytona 500 in February happened before the pandemic took hold across America and was one of just four races held with unlimited fans attendance. The remainder of the schedule past Phoenix in March was held with no, or limited fans, and with NASCAR’s strict COVID-19 protocols.

While several vaccinations are on the horizon, the state of Florida just past 1 million cases and the virus is surging. With no end in sight, NASCAR said at the end of the 2020 season that they expected to have COVID-19 protocols in place for at least part of the 2021 season.

Unlike the races with limited fans in 2020, all the events held during Daytona Speedweeks will allow a limited number of fans.

“The Daytona 500 is one of the greatest spectacles in all of sports, and fans from all over the world converge in Daytona Beach to be a part of motorsport’s biggest day,” said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile. “While we won’t be able to have a capacity crowd here in February, we are excited that we can host the Daytona 500 with those in attendance, as well as for the millions who will tune in live on Fox.

“The Great American Race will once again have the aura and atmosphere that fans have come to know and love. From the pageantry of our pre-race festivities to the rumble of 40 engines roaring around the high banks, it’s the biggest stage in motorsports.”

The Speedway said they will work to accommodate guests who have already purchased tickets to the 2021 Daytona 500 and to ensure social distancing between groups who will be in attendance, many fans will be reseated in new locations. The reseating process is expected to be complete by early January. In addition, all fans will be screened before entering the facility and will be required to wear face coverings while maintaining six feet social distancing throughout their visit. Campers will be allowed, also on a limited basis.

The schedule, new for 2020, for the Daytona 2021 Speedweeks:
Tuesday, Feb. 9: 43rd Annual Busch Clash at Daytona (Daytona Road Course under the lights)
Wednesday, Feb. 10: DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger
Thursday, Feb. 11: Duel at DAYTONA qualifying races
Friday, Feb. 12: NextEra Energy 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race
Saturday, Feb. 13: NASCAR Racing Experience 300 (NASCAR Xfinity Series) and Lucas Oil 200 (ARCA Menards) doubleheader
Sunday, Feb. 14: 2021 Daytona 500