NASCAR would likely be one of the first sports to return to action
In early March, NASCAR was set to race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. As the Coronavirus pandemic grew, the race weekend was abruptly shut-down.
Soon after, more races were postponed. Then, a stay-at-home order was issued in counties and later the entire state of North Carolina. This forced entire teams to close the doors.
The development of the 2021 NASCAR race car was delayed. Series officials eventually elected to postpone the entire launch of the new car until 2022.
Now, seven NASCAR races are currently postponed. They are tentatively scheduled to resume on May 9th at Martinsville Speedway. However, that likely won’t happen as Virginia has a lengthy stay-at-home order issued.
So, what’s the plan? What’s the current state of NASCAR?
Danny Hamlin on the NASCAR industry
“It’s all shut down. The race shops right now, are not in business,” Denny Hamlin stated via Race Talk Live on NBC Sports.
“Joe Gibbs Racing, we have 550 employees out there building these race cars. You can’t have them close to each other. There’s a strict ban on any kind of simulation.”
“We’re just in a holding pattern, playing some iRacing. That’s about it.”
NASCAR would likely be one the first sports to return; When?
“Generally speaking, I think we would be one of the earliest sports back. Because there’s no contact. We’re not a stick and ball sport where there’s player to player contact. Or, there doesn’t have to be,” Hamlin stated.
“Going back without fans, it’s probably going to be part of the realistic future, in my opinion. I don’t know that for sure. I think the preliminary date right now would be late-May. May 24-25 is when we plan on going back as of right now.”
Again, NASCAR is currently scheduled to resume in early May at Martinsville Speedway. But, as stated above, that event is likely to be postponed.
The White House has cleared sporting events to return to action, in certain states, without fans. That requires regular testing of the industry per White House Dr. Fauci.
May 24th is the date of the Coca-Cola 600. Could we see the All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600 run in the same weekend?
“But, it remains fluid. With every update that we get from the President or doctors, it changes, week by week. Right now, that looks like the plan.”
Offcials have discusses mid-week races and double-header race weekends once they get going. Everything is on the table as NASCAR intends to run their full-season, with or without fans int he stands.
Currently, NASCAR is running digital races each Sunday, with the exception of Easter. Real-world racing stars sit in cockpits within their living rooms and hit the digital race tracks of iRacing.
Millions of sporting fans are tuning in. Why? With the exception of horse racing, it’s the only sport out there right now. And it’s as close to the real thing as you can get given the inputs are the same from the simulated world to the digital world.
Denny Hamlin drove to the digital race win in the first of the online events at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I just had a conversation with Steve Phelps. The million plus that watch us week-in-week-out, 250,000 of the people that watched the first week at Homestead had not turned into a NASCAR race for the first four races of our season.”
“250,000 new fans that were watching us that had never been exposed to racing before. That is a huge, huge gain and a win for us. He says the audience is getting younger, which in NASCAR, is something we’ve really been striving for,” Hamlin concluded.
Last week, United States President Donald Trump was on a conference call with many of the sporting commissioners throughout the United States. But, what was talked about?
“The conference call was for the four majors plus a number of the other sports. He gave us a briefing and brought us up to date,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated.
“He, like us, would like to see sports back, at the right time. We’re a bit of an economic engine, 10’s of thousands of people, work in sports. Each of us had an opportunity to make a comment or ask a question.”
“The unsanitary of our times weren’t clarified in that call. We’re all going to have to wait until we have a lot more information. Maybe in the next few weeks, before we can make any decisions.”
On March 12, the NHL suspended their current season. As of now, the NHL would be in their 2020 playoffs had things continued rolling.
What are the options?
“I think right now, there’s too much uncertainty. Hopefully, we’ll all know more by the end of April.”
“We’re all waiting for a green light. And the green light may not be crystal clear because there may be some placed in the country were you can’t play. And other places where you can.”
“We are viewing all of out options. It’s largely going to be determined by how much time we have left. Because we have next season to focus on as well. And the health of the country. By the country, I mean both Canada and the U.S.”
“We took a pause and wanted to make sure we weren’t spreading the virus. We tested everybody and went into self-isolation. We’ve only had 7 players, 5 on one time. And that wasn’t surprising. It was a team that had to fly across country, somebody was infected on the plane.”
“We’re all doing as a league, as a family to keep our people healthy and not be part of the problem. I know it’s gotta be incredibly frustrating for our players.”