7 races have been postponed with no new dates yet announced; NASCAR talks about what the schedule could look like when the sport resumes
Two weeks ago, the Coronavirus was just reaching our borders. It quickly became a pandemic.
Just as NASCAR was set to host a race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the cancellations began across the country.
At first, NASCAR had plans to host Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway with no fans in the stands. They then talked about a condensed weekend schedule. And just a few hours before the first practice, the entire weekend was postponed.
NASCAR has since added 5 more races to the list of postponements. They have tentative plans to pick up in May at Martinsville Speedway.
But, what will NASCAR do scheduling wise for the other 7 races?
NASCAR president Steve Phelps talks postponed NASCAR scheduling
“We intend to race all of our 36 points paying races as well as the All-Star event,” NASCAR president Steve Phelps told media in a conference call.
“We’re looking broadly about what our options are. At this particular point, we would like to finish the season at Phoenix and keep the playoff portion intact.”
Mid-week races and double headers are on the table for the 7 races are currently postponed.
4 of the 7 races that have been postponed are also inside the Playoffs. It’s not likely that we’d see double-headers inside the Playoffs.
“We are interested in getting those postponed races done prior to our Playoffs starting.”
NASCAR is hoping that when teams get to the playoffs, they are able to run those 10 races as planned, without alterations. That means, the schedule leading into the Playoffs is likely to be extra condensed.
“We’re working with our race tracks to make sure that the things we’re putting on the table are feasible for us to do.”
In the case that more races are postponed, NASCAR is working to have a plan for that situation as well.
“We have a commitment to our fans that we are going to run all the races.”
“We are going to do everything in our power to get this races in. If there are other variables that suggest we can’t do that, then we’ll look at those at that time.”
Sports all returning at once
In the coming weeks or months, all of sports will return at once with each of their condensed schedules. That further complicates things from a TV scheduling standpoint.
Additionally, NASCAR had two off weeks planned during the Olympics. Now, it’s possible NASCAR could air during the Olympics.
“Nothing’s been decided in regards to those two weeks.”
“But, will it be a crowded landscape with a lot of different sports on? Yes.”
“We’ll work with our television partners to find the appropriate windows. To make sure our fans get the opportunity to see that racing.”
Will fans be allowed when NASCAR returns?
It’s possible that NASCAR looks to return to racing after the decline of the virus but before it’s safe enough for fans to attend, for the safety of the industry.
“I think the way we view this, is kinda how we view Atlanta.”
“Which is, we need to make sure we are keeping our competitors, teams, officials — We need have the health of those folks. That’s paramount for us.”
“Would we consider racing without fans to get back racing more quickly, without fans? That’s in the consideration set.”
“I don’t know. It’s changing so rapidly. What does it mean for mass gatherings? And what’s that number?”
“We’re working with a number of infectious disease professionals that are going to help us through what that looks like. If it makes sense for our first race back to be with or without fans.”