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NASCAR sets return to on-track racing for May 17

The green flag flies on a new season of NASCAR. (Nascarking/Wikimedia Commons)

NASCAR will return to on-track racing May 17 with the first of seven races at two tracks over an 11-day period, it was announced Thursday.

The races, which will take place without spectators present but will be broadcast live on Fox or Fox Sports 1, will be run at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. As with all other sports and large-group activities, NASCAR has been shut down since mid-March due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “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.”

Charlotte and Darlington were chosen because of their proximity to the various NASCAR team race shops, which are clustered north and northeast of Charlotte. Individuals entering the track facilities will be screened for COVID-19, protective equipment will be worn and social distancing protocols will be observed, NASCAR officials said.

There will be no practice sessions for any of the races, and qualifying will be held only for the May 24 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. No dates beyond May 27 have been announced, though NASCAR officials say they plan to resume the full 2020 season as soon as possible.

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No re-scheduling information is yet available regarding races that were postponed, including the April races at Talladega Superspeedway. NASCAR’s Cup Series last raced March 8 at Phoenix.

Here’s the full revised NASCAR schedule, including broadcast information (all times Central):

Sunday, May 17: Cup Series at Darlington, Fox, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday, May 19: Xfinity Series at Darlington, Fox Sports 1, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, May 20: Cup Series at Darlington, Fox Sports 1, 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 24: Cup Series (Coca-Cola 600) at Charlotte, Fox, 5 p.m.

Monday, May 25: Xfinity Series at Charlotte, Fox Sports 1, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, May 26: Gander Trucks at Charlotte, Fox Sports 1, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, May 27: Cup Series at Charlotte, Fox Sports 1, 7 p.m.

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