NASCAR comments on the rules as they are set to race through a pandemic
NASCAR is set to return in bulk. Sports will return with the NASCAR Cup Series on May 17th at Darlington Raceway.
Seven races are to take place over the course of 11 days. Each of them will take place at either Darlington Raceway or Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Each of them will be single day shows. That’s to keep the lowest number of people possible in the infield. The sanction has limited team personnel to just 16 which includes the driver, team owner, spotter, crew and over the wall crews.
One way walkways will be in place at the track. Temperature screenings will also be setup at various points within the facilities.
Originally, it was rumored that NASCAR had plans to test the entire industry ahead of the event. That won’t be the case…
COVID-19 testing was looked into by NASCAR
“On COVID-19 testing, those tests remain in short supply. Getting results can take 2-3 days. Really, those tests should be targeted for those, most in need,” John Bobo stated in a NASCAR Media teleconference.
“On antibody testing, we believe it’s still being developed. Our experts are still unsure about what it means. Immunity may be 3 weeks to 6 months. Our experts are not able to tell us what that may mean or not mean. We remain curious about it and watch as those tests improve.”
“We’re really interested in antigen testing. We see that that may be something we can implement within our program. We’re waiting on further development and FDA approval.”
Antigen tests are the quickest of the COVID-19 tests. Results are provided in a matter of minutes. These tests are not yet on the market.
“We are asking teams to keep a log of who they’ve interacted with throughout the course of a day. If we do have a positive, post-race. We can figure out who they were in direct exposure to and ask those people to self-isolate for 14 days.”
“We do plan to move to contract tracing software when that is further developed. In a more reliable platform that can work state to state.”
“We’re an organization that puts cars on the track, four days a week at 200mph. We think it’s that same discipline and eye toward safety that everybody in our industry has this is going to help us execute on this.”
What happens with a positive tests in the NASCAR community
Masks and gloves will be worn be everyone at the facility. Teams will be spread out throughout the infield of the race tracks.
Social distancing and contract logs will be critical is anyone tests positive. That will allow the series to prevent spread throughout the garage area.
NASCAR will be screening throughout the race weekend. If it comes up, members will be able to get medical attention as needed.
That attention will be given outside of the medical center. As the medical center needs to be safe and clear of the virus in the case of an accident on the track.
The series is asking the road crews to be separate from the shop crews, that includes the driver. NASCAR is attempting to put their road crews in front of as few people as possible.
If a driver tests positive?
“We would look at everyone that driver came in contact with directly. Those folks would have to self-isolate. We would obviously make sure the driver is going to get the care he needs,” Bobo added.
These are unique times. Typically, if a driver misses a race, they are no longer playoff eligible. An exception could be given such as the case with Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman.
Also, if a driver misses a race currently, they are not given points, unless they start the race. Will that change in this situation?
Steve O’Donnell jumps in, “We hope we don’t have to do this — But, we will allow a replacement person for a team member or for a driver.”
“At Darlington, they’ll have a 3 hours window [to replace that person].”
In other words, the initial screening will take place three hours ahead of any on track activity. That will give teams time to find replacements as needed.
“For the what if’s, we’ll learn as we go. Hopefully, we don’t face those. But, if you had multiple teams, that’s certainly a different story than if we were just isolating one person.”
If teams need to move to a replacement driver, would the replacement earn points for the driver that’s in isolation?
“As of this moment, it will be as it is currently. That could change if we see something different. I know it’s not the same. But, we want to keep the same policies that we’ve had in place.”
“But, if we have to, based on new circumstances, we’d certainly consider that,” O’Donnell concluded.