NASCAR plans to make its return from the coronavirus pandemic in May, but it won’t be in Florida.
It announced Thursday that Cup Series plans to return without fans for a 400-mile race at Darlington on May 17. It will be shown at 3:30 on Fox. Darlington will host another Cup race on May 20 before the series races its marquee Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte on May 24. Charlotte will host another Cup race on May 27.
“NASCAR and its teams are eager and excited to return to racing, and have great respect for the responsibility that comes with a return to competition,” NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said in a statement. “NASCAR will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials and all those in the local community. We thank local, state and federal officials and medical experts, as well as everyone in the industry, for the unprecedented support in our return to racing, and we look forward to joining our passionate fans in watching cars return to the track.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had publicly and repeatedly advocated for NASCAR to race in his state, which would have meant at Daytona International Speedway or Homestead-Miami Speedway. It is unclear when either will host another event this year; NASCAR said it will announce its future scheduling updates later.
NASCAR has eliminated practice sessions in its first few races back. Only the Coca-Cola 600 will have qualifying.
All races will be one-day shows with strict limits on the number of people who can enter the facility, health screenings and the required use of personal protective equipment.