NASCAR returning to Darlington without fans in the grandstands

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – No fans will be allowed inside, but this weekend, NASCAR will be hitting the track at Darlington and drivers will have their temperatures taken as they enter the raceway.

The drivers will be wearing masks as they leave their isolated motorhomes and make their way to their cars.

NASCAR is attempting to safely race Sunday at Darlington and six more times over the next 10 days. NASCAR has put rules in place like making personal protective equipment, like masks, mandatory.

Teams who violate the rules face a $50,000 fine.

“Just the unknowns about the procedures — you can read about them all you want and we also heard through the teleconference we had with NASCAR about the protocols,” said Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin. “Obviously there will be a huge microscope on how we’re doing things, making sure it’s done in a safe manner. For all of us, it’s just the unknown of making sure we’re doing it the right way.”

Faced with many of its teams falling into financial ruin, NASCAR is waving the green flag on a plan it believes allows the series to safely return to racing. Only essential personnel will be permitted into the infield with strict guidelines on social distancing, access and protective clothing.

The seven races so far announced in May are at Darlington and Charlotte Motor Speedway, tracks within driving distance from teams’ North Carolina base. Four are in the elite Cup Series and the other three are lower-tier Xfinity and Truck Series races.

NASCAR had hoped to announce a revamped 2021 schedule in April that included midweek races, more short tracks and road courses, and other efforts to shake things up. Those plans have been delayed as completing the 2020 jigsaw puzzle is now the priority; NASCAR said last week it won’t race this year as scheduled at Chicagoland Speedway or on the road course in Sonoma, California. The spring race in Richmond, Virginia, also will not be rescheduled.

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