CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR is back, marking one of the first major sporting events to return during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday afternoon, the racing company released its modified schedule with its first race returning on Sunday, May 17. In its modified schedule for the NASCAR Cup Series, races will be held primarily in the Carolinas, including the Darlington Raceway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Coca-Cola 600 will resume on Sunday, May 24, at 6 p.m.
NASCAR made it clear that fans will not be able to attend the events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"NASCAR and its teams are eager and excited to return to racing, and have great respect for the responsibility that comes with a return to competition," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's executive vice president, in the racing company's official statement. "NASCAR will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials and all those in the local community. We thank local, state and federal officials and medical experts, as well as everyone in the industry, for the unprecedented support in our return to racing, and we look forward to joining our passionate fans in watching cars return to the track."
On Tuesday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he expected the Coca-Cola 600 will go on as scheduled as long as "health conditions go down."
"I have had conversations with NASCAR officials and officials at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and they have submitted plans that involves social distancing," Cooper said during a Tuesday press conference. "Our public health officials, Secretary Cohen and State Health Director Betsey Tilson have looked at them and made some suggestions, but will approve those and we believe that unless health conditions go down that we can have the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend in (Concord).