Fans will still be relegated to their couches, but at least one sport will be back in May.
On May 17, NASCAR will hold its first Cup Series race in over two months, making its return at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. The 400-mile race will air on FOX at 3:30 p.m. ET. and it will represent the first of seven races in 11 days during the month of May.
The first three races will be held at Darlington Raceway, and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster commented on NASCAR's return:
“As our nation restarts, I can think of no better place for NASCAR to drop the green flag than at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. Team South Carolina stands ready to help NASCAR restart the season at Darlington Raceway with three races next month that can be enjoyed by fans from home on television, radio, and online.”
The final four races will take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
No fans will be in attendance for any of the seven races.
NASCAR, like nearly every professional sports organization, has been sidelined for weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a Thursday press release, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell discussed NASCAR's excitement in returning to the racetrack, and thanked those that made the return possible.
“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 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.”
NASCAR is implementing a number of precautions to ensure that drivers and their teams can return to the racetrack safely, including no qualifying event for six of the seven races.
Other measures include "mandated use of personal protective equipment throughout the event, health screenings for all individuals prior to entering the facility, while inside the facility and exiting the facility, social distancing protocols throughout the event and strict limits on the number of individuals who are granted access into each facility."
Several NASCAR drivers reacted to the news on social media: