NASCAR returns to Darlington Raceway with a few changes

Nascar is back! Here’s what has changed. 

By Patrick Babbitt

 

NASCAR is coming back this weekend live from Darlington, South Carolina for the first time since the COVID crisis left athletes at home in March. This is a return to live sports in America as teams gear up to race on the iconic Darlington Raceway this Sunday, May 17. This was supposed to be the fifth race of the season and has been postponed for two months.

As you can imagine, NASCAR is taking extreme precautions in an attempt to protect those essential staff from the dangers of COVID-19. If you were to drive past Darlington this weekend you’d see a line out front like you’d see at the airport. Each person will have their temperature taken upon entry. In addition to the screenings upon entry, there will also be monitoring throughout the day. If a member breaks the rules, for example refusing to wear a mask or not adhering to the testing guidelines, they will be kicked out and the team will be fined.

Darlington marks NASCAR’s first foray into a fanless event, but NASCAR has also asked others who would usually attend to stay home. A normal crew from each team can be up to 30 to 40 people. This weekend each team can have a max of 16 people including the driver. Those crew members who hop the wall to work on the car will be affixed with additional masks and neck coverings under their helmets. 

When NASCAR figured out a location and date to hold the race they sprang into action. Due to the rushed production, teams will be forced to cut down their practice time. Some, if not all, will be unable to run the course as is normal procedure. This could be an advantage to those drivers with more experience and those that rely on their intellect on the racetrack. Add on top of that the weather, which is looking to reach into the high 80s with 52 percent humidity. 

“Why not, right? Why not be one of the toughest if not the toughest race track that we go to be the first one that we go back to after two months and let’s not have practice and, yeah, let’s make it 90 degrees,” said Joey Logano who won the last NASCAR Cup Series before the season paused in March. “Boy, if that doesn’t put on a good show for race fans. I’d tune in to watch that mess. It’s gonna be something.”

 The announcers will be 100 miles away watching from a media headquarters with a multitude of enormous screens following the action. This is uncharted territory for all parties involved including us, the sports starved public. We’re very excited to see how it all turns out. You’ll be able to tune in and rev up this Sunday 5/17 on FOX at 3:30 pm.