Tomorrow, the sport returns with their first LIVE event in months; Millions of new eyes will be on Darlington Raceway, to watch and also critique
NASCAR is set to grab the eyes of the entire sports world. NBA, NFL, NHL and other sports fans don’t have an outlet. This weekend, a bulk of them will be tuned into NASCAR.
These fans may not be a fan of NASCAR. They may not even like NASCAR. But, they’re still going to tune in just to see how NASCAR does it. Just to get an idea for what the future of their own sport may look like.
The green flag will drop at Darlington Raceway. It marks the first event of a highly condensed schedule through the end May.
A schedule has been released through June 21st. All of hose events will be run without fans in the stands. This weekend, the show resumes.
But, there’s a lot that’s led to this moment.
Bubba Wallace on NASCAR returning
“I’m as healthy as I can be right now. Obviously, we’re all kinda on eggshells. The whole screenings process — What’s going to go down and what’s taking place. It’s all kinda nerve wracking,” Bubba Wallace stated on The Rich Eisen Show.
“Cause if one driver has it, it can all be kinda pulled out from underneath that driver. We’re all taking extra measures to make sure we’re ready.”
“We’re kinda bored in the off-season. Which we had just gotten off of in January. We went back racing for like two weeks and we’ve been sitting off for another off-season.”
NASCAR setting the tone for sports
NASCAR is going first. But, it’s going to set the blueprint for other sports. At the same time, there’s a lot of people watching to evaluate the way it’s restarted, instead of the race itself.
“We’re really setting the tone for how this goes. There’s going to be a lot of eyes watching us. One, cause sports are back on TV. Two, because there’s going to be some people that want to see us fail and can nitpick at every little thing, if we don’t follow the right guidelines.”
“There’s going to be those people, ‘Oh, they are not six feet apart! They are 5.9 feet.’ We are all excited for sports to get underway. But we have to be careful. Everything we do is under a microscope right now.”
“There’s going to be extra eyes on us to see how we handle each and every circumstance. From the EMT’s being around if a driver gets into a wreck. Victory lane is totally different, no crew around.”
“It’s more the health officials that are coming to the track to make sure this all goes smoothly. This isn’t just a game plan that we scripted up. They have done numerous amounts of work and research. Conversations, emails and you name it with health officials.”
NASCAR drivers in isolation
“We are not allowed to be in contact with, really anybody. Once we are at the race track, we are ordered to self-quarantine ourselves. Whether that’s in our car or our motorhomes. Until minutes before the race.”
“We will have no outside contact. The only communication that I will have with my crew is via telephone, email, zoom. It’s definitely going to be different.”
“Usually, on race day you spend 30 minutes with your team. Just to debrief and go over the ups and downs of what to expect. But here, I’m literally going from my house to my house on wheels to quarantine myself some more.”
“I won’t see or talk to anybody, physically. It will all be through phone or a very safe distance.”
“The race is at 3:30. We are told to be strapped in our cars at 3:20 and we leave our bus at 3:19. It’s that critical and that strict.”
“I’m sure NASCAR has been up day and night how we can get racing. We have group chats that we’re all a part of. We had just jumped of a call with the sanctioning body that all us drivers were in.”
COVID testing in NASCAR
NASCAR’s initial plans intended to test everyone at the race track. However, those plans have not come to be.
A few weeks ago, NASCAR stated that tests were still hard to come by. The rapid tests, are still in development and require FDA approval.
Has Bubba Wallace been tested?
“I have not. I’ve been checking my temperature and staying, as minimal contact as I can.”
“They will have a whole screening process when we show up to the race track. They have all the guidelines and protocols in place. If a driver does have it, they know what to do next.”
NASCAR returns today
Billions of people around the world have been outside with minimal contact. Their lives have been altered as a result of the pandemic. This weekend, a shred of normalcy returns.
“There was a lot of speculation when this all first started happening. Not racing at all. Or whatever the circumstances could be. I think this is the best scenario possible, for everybody involved.”
“It’s a really big deal for sports. It’s crazy to realize home many people, in the world, need sports. Until you take it all away, you never see that.”
Sports channels have been airing replays of history. Horse racing and some golf has been the only thing shown LIVE in recent months.
“Seeing how there’s absolutely nothing and how people are going crazy over this. I think it’s a huge moment for us to lead sports teams back into the arenas. With or without fans, we got do it the healthiest way possible.”
“I wouldn’t call it the test dummy or the guinea pig. But, I guess that’s what it is.”
NASCAR teams are going to take the green without a single lap of practice. They’re going off setups from September 2019. A lot has changed on the cars since then. So, there’s a lot of unknowns leading into turn one.
“It’s the prefect, ‘hold my beer and watch this’ moment. We’re going to go out and the green flag’s going to drop.”
“To show a new fanbase that will be watching, is exciting for us. To show them a great product of racing,” Bubba Wallace concluded.