McDONOUGH - With many sports looking to take precautions against novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the NASCAR season, which was set to come to Atlanta Motor Speedway last week, was abruptly put on hold.
This left NASCAR President Steve Phelps in a tough position, but the decision at the time was to postpone two races.
HAMPTON — With the looming threats of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the NASCAR race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway has been postponed.
NASCAR sent out a release Monday that it has postponed five additional races, bringing the total to seven. In the release, NASCAR wrote:
“The health and safety of our fans, industry and the communities in which we race is our most important priority, so in accordance with recent CDC guidance, NASCAR is currently postponing all race events through May 3rd, with plans to return racing in Martinsville."
The decision to postpone races started with the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway last week.
The decision behind postponing Atlanta was a fluid situation at best for NASCAR last week. From multiple reports last weekend, the series was exploring many different avenues to run the race but, in the end, it was the postponing of the event that won out.
"The industry, the teams, the track, in this case Atlanta Motor Speedway, was everyone working together to try to come to what was going to be the right decision for us and our fans. It was fluid," Phelps said. "It did change. We were prepared first run on Sunday, then we were going to pull it to Saturday. It was decided quickly that we would make a change and postpone both the Atlanta race as well as the Homestead-Miami race."
NASCAR intends to run all 36 races this season as well as the All-Star event. But there is no set format of how the series will restart the season or what race schedules would look like at the moment. Phelps says that he hopes to keep the postseason portion of the season intact with a finish in Phoenix.
"Most importantly we intend to race all our 36 points races as well as the All-Star event. What those look like at this particular point we’re looking broadly about what our options are," Phelps said. "At this particular point we would like to finish the season at Phoenix and keep the playoff portion intact. With that said, it will require a lot of different opportunities for us to look at. We’re in the process of doing that."
Phelps says there's no specifics around mid-week races or doubleheaders, but there is no plan to run doubleheader races in the playoffs even though there are a lot of things on the table for NASCAR to look at.
"We have a commitment to our fans to run all the races, we have a commitment to our competitors to run all the races," Phelps said via phone conference. "We are going to do everything in our power to get these races in."
Those races also include the All-Star race in Charlotte. NASCAR is working with media partners like FOX and NBC regarding how the sport will return to TV. The return could clash with many other sports that are going to return to action as well.
Phelps says they're working with all parties.
"We are working with our media partners, with FOX, with NBC. If you kind of consider what is going to happen, we’re in this period right now where the major sports are shut down from participating. At some point soon we hope to all get back to finding that escape that our fans are all looking for, in our case getting back to racing," Phelps said. "We are working with FOX and with NBC to understand what windows might be available. That will come as we develop this schedule. It is complex, for sure. But both partners have shown great willingness to try to work with us, obviously we with the other sports to find windows to get back to racing in our case."