NASCAR’s iRacing Series has been a great way to fill the void left by the Cup Series races that have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic since mid-March. But for a business that depends on real, live racing, NASCAR is eager to get teams and drivers back to the racetrack.
With states beginning to lift restrictions and with race teams in North Carolina allowed to work again as essential businesses, that return could come as early as Sunday, May 17.
NASCAR reportedly is working on a revised Cup Series schedule for 2020 that would keep a 36-race slate intact. There is less clarity on how revised Xfinity and Truck Series schedules will look.
Below is everything we know about NASCAR’s plans to return to real racing after months of virtual competitions on the iRacing platform.
Updated NASCAR schedule for 2020
NASCAR has not yet released its revised Cup Series schedule for 2020, but it remains committed to running 36 races, four of which were completed before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sports world. According to Fox Sports, NASCAR hopes to keep its 10 playoff races in the fall intact and at their original tracks.
According to the Associated Press, the NASCAR schedule “will change dramatically and some tracks likely will be dropped this season if their state does not permit a sporting event.”
Per reports, below is the revised schedule NASCAR sent to race teams. Again, it has not been approved and is not yet official.
|Sunday, May 17||Darlington||400 miles|
|Wednesday, May 20||Darlington||310 miles|
|Sunday, May 24||Charlotte||600 miles|
|Wednesday, May 27||Charlotte||300 miles|
|Sunday, May 31||Martinsville||TBD|
|Wednesday, June 3||Bristol||TBD|
|Sunday, June 7||Atlanta||TBD|
|Sunday, June 14||Homestead-Miami||TBD|
For now, NASCAR is trying to schedule races within driving distance of the Charlotte area, where most race teams are headquartered, per the AP’s report. That would eliminate most of the travel-related logistics issues associated with running multiple races in one week, which appears necessary for a full season of racing.
Below are the eight NASCAR Cup Series races that are currently postponed (and their original date on the schedule):
- Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (March 15)
- Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (March 22)
- O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (March 29)
- Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (April 5)
- Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway (April 19)
- Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway (April 26)
- Cup Series Race at Dover International Speedway (May 3)
- Cup Series Race at Martinsville Speedway (May 9)
When will NASCAR start racing again?
NASCAR reportedly presented to race teams a revised Cup Series schedule — which is not yet official — that would begin with a race at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, May 17. The track, located in South Carolina and roughly a two-hour drive from the Charlotte area, would then host a second race on Wednesday, May 20. Both races would run without fans at the track.
The first Darlington race would be 400 miles long, according to The Athletic, with the second being 310 miles.
The following week, Charlotte Motor Speedway would host the Coca-Cola 600 on its originally scheduled date of Sunday, May 24, followed by a 300-mile race on Wednesday, May 27 — also both without fans. The annual All-Star Race at Charlotte would be a casualty as NASCAR attempts to run a complete schedule of 36 points races in 2020.
The revised schedule also would include races without fans at Martinsville (May 31), Bristol (June 1), Atlanta (June 7) and Homestead (June 14).
According to the AP, NASCAR “is expected to limit team rosters, have one-day events, and scrap qualifying and practice at many places.” NASCAR also could do away with competitive pit stops in an effort to limit the amount of people in the garage. According to Fox Sports, the viability of pit stops is “still under discussion.”