NASCAR suspends racing until early May

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA - OCTOBER 27: General view of racing during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 27, 2019 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

NASCAR announced Monday night that there will be no NASCAR racing until after May 3. That would make the first weekend back to be Martinsville which has a Cup race scheduled on Saturday May 9.

In a statement the sanctioning body said:

“The health and safety of our fans, industry and the communities in which we race is our most important priority, so in accordance with recent CDC guidance, NASCAR is currently postponing all race events through May 3rd, with plans to return racing in Martinsville. We appreciate the patience of our fans and we look forward to returning to the racetrack. We intend to hold all 36 races this season, with future rescheduling soon to be determined as we continue to monitor this situation closely with public health officials and medical experts. What is important now transcends the world of sports and our focus is on everyone’s safety and well-being as we navigate this challenging time together.”

The CDC recommended Sunday night that there be no gatherings of more than 50 people for at least 8 weeks.

If the Martinsville date holds, and the series intends to make up races, there will need to be makeup dates for Atlanta, Homestead-Miami (which were already postponed) and Texas, Bristol, Richmond, Talladega and Dover.  Making up these races will most likely involve running them on off-weekends (there are two) as well as weekdays including the time period when the Olympics are scheduled.

The COVID-19 virus began to affect the sport when last week NASCAR announced that the Atlanta and Homestead races would be run without fans. Then Friday they announced the postponement of those races.

Friday started at Atlanta with talk of a schedule change that would have had the Truck series race on Friday with the Cup series racing Saturday at 2 followed by the Xfinity series at 7.

Then came word that Cup teams landing at the Atlanta airport were being turned around and sent home. Speculation was that they would return Saturday for a one-day show.  Then at Atlanta crews could then be seen repacking the team haulers they had unloaded only a few hours before. Shortly after, the official word came down via the statement about the postponement.

Moments before that the IndyCar series announced they would postpone all races through April starting with the weekend’s St. Pete grand prix. Formula 1 postponed their season opener around the same time.

NASCAR has never been forced to postpone two races in a row due to anything other than weather.  The last time a NASCAR was postponed for something other than weather was in 2001 when the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was postponed until the end of the season due to the attacks on 9-11.

Greg Engle