CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WYMT)- NASCAR is set to take the green flag Sunday at Darlington for the first of seven sanctioned races in two weeks. Sunday's Real Heroes 400 will start the season back up after the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the season March 13th.
In this May 27, 2018, file photo, the field takes the green flag to start the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. The governor of North Carolina says NASCAR can go forward with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway at the end of May so long as health conditions do not deteriorate in the state. Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday he and state public health officials have had discussions with NASCAR and the speedway regarding its safety protocols for staging a race without spectators. Cooper said the state offered input on NASCAR’s plan, but he believes the race can go forward on Memorial Day weekend for the 60th consecutive year. (Source: AP Photo/Mike McCarn, file)
"We are fortunate to be one of those sports that we can take advantage of the situation and maybe get the ball rolling," said NASCAR driver Daniel Suarez.
"I think it is phenomenal for NASCAR because you’ve got a captive audience right now and there’s no other major league sport," said Prestonsburg's Lorin Ranier who has been around racing his entire life and runs Ranier Racing Development.
After the eight week delay, NASCAR is finding ways to create a schedule that will allow them to complete all the points races for all three sanctioned series.
The Cup series will run May 17th and 20th at Darlington with two races at Charlotte Motor Speedway the following week.
The Xfinity Series will run May 19th at Darlington and May 25th at Charlotte.
The Gander Outdoors Truck Series will run at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26th.
"It’s going to be different," said Suarez. "No practice no qualifying just straight to the race you know no friends no family no sponsors very limited people."
NASCAR says the races will be without fans through June, 21st. Teams and crews will also have new guidelines to abide by.
"We’re going to have different times for arrivals and then we’re going straight to the medical center to check temperatures to make sure we are good and healthy and go," said Suarez.
"There are two shifts. (Teams) have a morning shift and then an evening shift. So certain people in certain parts of the shop and stuff so they’re going through all that stuff," said Ranier.
Ranier worked with Chip Ganassi Racing for nearly 20 years. He still helps with the team in numerous ways. May 24th, Ranier will spot for driver Ross Chastain.
"Since there is no fans, some will be on the roof some may be in a suite and some might be in the grandstand," said Ranier.
He says with all the precautions in place, he isn't worried about the risk of returning too soon.
"if you walked into Target or Walmart or Lowe’s or Home Depot I would be more worried about that than this," said Ranier. "They are just ready to go they just wanna race I mean they want to get back at it and do what they do. Everybody wants to it’s not just racing but in life."
NASCAR released the second wave of the schedule Thursday. The series will run at Bristol Atlanta Martinsville Homestead and Talladega setting the schedule through the 21st of June.