‘Smoother than expected’ NASCAR says of resuming season

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By Matt Courson, Staff Writer

NASCAR returned to action for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the entire sporting industry back in March. Certain safety precautions were taken place at the track, such as requiring wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, and having everyone’s temperature checked upon arrival into the facility to ensure guidelines set by the CDC were being followed. Fans were also absent from the track known as “Too Tough To Tame”.

“Things actually went smoother than we could have expected, getting all the teams in,” Steve O’ Donnell, Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, said in a video conference post race. “From everyone we talked to in the garage area, the entry process went incredibly well.”

O’Donnell says that nobody was found in violation of not wearing masks and that the entire industry came together to do what needed to be done in order for the green flag to resume on the 2020 racing season.

“I think everybody’s spirits were really, really high,” said O’Donnell.  “They all knew the effort that this took collectively to pull this off.  This was not easy.  But everybody came together in a real spirit of collaboration.

“I think the participants were able to create their own positive vibe knowing this was a big day for the sport, knowing it was a day we could showcase the sport to a live television audience and hopefully give some people a little bit of joy to watch them race.”

The Cup Series returns to Darlington on Wednesday and then heads to Charlotte for a pair of races starting next weekend with the Coca-Cola 600. NASCAR said officials from Charlotte Motor Speedway were onsite to observe the safety protocols being taken to prepare for their race weekend.

“There was a crew from Charlotte that was here observing kind of the entry process, what was in place,” said O’Donnell.  “We also took them around prior to show them kind of what we’re doing in the garage area so they could have the appropriate signage and flow of traffic set up.”

NASCAR will reevaluate the weekend in a meeting Monday before deciding whether to make any changes to safety precautions prior to the races scheduled for mid-week at Darlington Raceway. 

“I certainly wouldn’t say [safety measures] will stay as is because you can always learn.  We’ve got a meeting tomorrow to download on everything,” O’Donnell said.

 

 

 

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