UPDATE: NASCAR races postponed at Atlanta, Homestead because of coronavirus — here’s everything you need to know
Amid cancellations of major sporting events across the United States and the world due to the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19), NASCAR had planned to race in both Atlanta and Miami but decided Friday morning that it would postpone races the next two weeks at Atlanta and Miami.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) March 13, 2020
Here are the major questions we’ve been receiving from fans and the answers I can provide:
Why did NASCAR postpone the race?
NASCAR: “We believe this decision is in the best interest of the safety and well-being of our fans, competitors, officials and everyone associated with our sport. We will continue to monitor this dynamic situation as we assess future race events.”
It’s unfortunate that @NASCAR had to make this call, but I 100% support their decision.
Looking forward to when we can get back to the track and put on a show! Stay healthy and safe everyone.
— Ross Chastain (@RossChastain) March 13, 2020
IndyCar announced the cancellation of its first four races on Friday at the same time NASCAR made its announcement. Mark Miles, president and CEO of IndyCar parent Penske Entertainment Corp., said there was a feeling among those in the motorsports community that because drivers don’t come in physical contact with each other, they were less at risk than athletes in sports such as basketball. IndyCar had planned to race, as NASCAR had planned, without fans this weekend.
“From the participants’ point of view, the drivers and the teams, that was part of our consideration earlier,” he said after the IndyCar decision. “But really I think what happened subsequently was the sense that it’s not responsible to ask people to get together.
“You have communities all over the country that are saying they don’t want 250 people, gatherings of 250 people, even for private events. So that’s where we are as a country right now. I think our drivers would be at much less risk.”
What are NASCAR’s options?
NASCAR’s schedule has only three off-weekends during the year (Easter weekend, April 12, and then a two-week break, July 26 and Aug. 2, during the Olympics), all occurring during the regular season. NASCAR also could reschedule a race on a weeknight, but would need to consider the logistics for the race teams.
Hendrick Motorsports fully supports NASCAR’s decision, which is in the best interests of fans, team members and the communities where we compete. We look forward to racing again at the appropriate time. Please stay safe. https://t.co/cO8UyNxpyi
— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) March 13, 2020
Who is NASCAR talking to in making these decisions?
NASCAR says: “NASCAR remains in daily consultation with public health officials and other prominent sports and entertainment properties. In addition, we have added an infectious disease specialist to our consulting physician group to provide technical assistance and to inform policy.”
What about the race in a couple of weeks at Texas?
All the races starting with the March 29 race at Texas are still on as planned with fans in attendance.
— Texas Motor Speedway (@TXMotorSpeedway) March 12, 2020
How has the coronavirus impacted the teams?
Many teams have indefinitely closed their shops to visitors. There have been no reports of any teams having someone with the virus. The teams with charters are obligated to field a car for a race, although there is a force majeure clause in the charter agreement that likely could allow a team to miss a race if it has someone infected and wants to withdraw for health reasons.
Headed home. pic.twitter.com/0aECHIu4y7
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) March 13, 2020
What happens if a race doesn’t happen?
NASCAR rules state the playoffs start on Race 27. There is no specification on what would happen if the season is shorter than 36 races. NASCAR has a rule that allows it to change rules at any time: “On occasion, circumstances will be presented that are either unforeseen or are otherwise extraordinary, in which strict application of the NASCAR Rules may not achieve this goal. In such rare circumstances, the NASCAR Officials, as a practical matter, may make a determination regarding the conduct of an Event, the eligibility of a Competitor, or similar matters that are not contemplated by or are inconsistent with the NASCAR Rules, in order to achieve this goal.”
We want to race as much as you want us to race but this is the right decision. This is so much bigger than sports right now and the health and safety of our fans, industry members and the overall public is top priority.
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) March 13, 2020
What do I do if I had tickets for the Atlanta and Homestead races?
For Atlanta ticket holders, they can use tickets for the postponed event, choose to receive an event credit for the full amount paid plus an additional 20 percent for another race at a Speedway Motorsports Inc. track in 2020-2021, or choose to receive a full refund. The SMI tracks are Atlanta, Bristol, Charlotte, Las Vegas, New Hampshire, Sonoma and Texas. Fans need to fill out a form on the track website.
Homestead ticket holders can use tickets for the postponed event. If a fan can’t go, the track has offered a 120 percent credit toward a purchase for any of the 2020-2021 races at NASCAR-owned tracks. Those tracks are Auto Club (California), Chicagoland, Darlington, Daytona, Homestead, Iowa, Kansas, Martinsville, Michigan, Phoenix, Richmond, Talladega and Watkins Glen. Homestead will issue refunds to those who don’t want to do a ticket exchange.
Decisions change as more information is gathered. I trust the leadership of @NASCAR They have more knowledge of what’s best for the sport than most all of us. I support their decision. Be safe and be kind to everyone. 🙏
— Michael Waltrip (@MW55) March 13, 2020