Photo: Logan T. Arce/ASP, Inc.

NC Governor Cooper Provides NASCAR Update and Possible Return

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

The road towards a return for NASCAR saw an encouraging turn after North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper made several announcements for the state regarding COVID-19 Thursday.

Although the stay-at-home order has been extended from April 29 to May 8, Gov. Cooper stated that race teams can indeed work on their cars at their race shops after being the sport was considered “essential business” just as long as social distancing practices are followed at all times.

According to FOX 46 Charlotte’s Will Kunkel, Gov. Cooper also provided an update regarding NASCAR’s Memorial Day weekend event at Charlotte Motor Speedway where a plan of running the Coca-Cola 600 without fans May 24 is an option.

“I have been in contact with NASCAR, track owners, team owners,” said Gov. Cooper. “They have a plan to protect their employees. We are examining their proposals. We will be coming forward with an announcement pretty soon.”

A further announcement about the Coke 600 activities, including race distance and car preparation time periods, will be decided at a later date. This is due to the fact Gov. Cooper will have further discussions with local health and NASCAR officials.

As of April 23rd, the Coke 600 is scheduled to be the sport’s return since COVID-19 halted the action with Phoenix Raceway (won by Joey Logano) March 8 being the most recent Cup Series race.

This may not be the case as another track could host a race sooner as The State’s Lou Bezjak reported that Darlington Raceway may have a spring race.

While a Darlington spokesperson has declined to comment Bezjak’s report, South Carolina’s tourism chief Duane Parrish told Bezjak that a race at Darlington in mid-May is possible.

“Some good news,” said Parish. “The RBC Heritage announced they will be playing a made-for-television event, no spectators. Before that, Darlington will broadcast a race as well with NASCAR. So we do have some lights at the end of the tunnel in regards to events.”

Only two major updates on NASCAR’s schedule were brought up since last Friday. Those were Martinsville Speedway becoming the latest track to postpone its race weekend and Texas Motor Speedway open to run without fans three days later.

It’s a matter of time when will NASCAR determine a return date and location as last Friday, they issued a statement that their main goal is to still run all 36 races in 2020:

“A potential return to racing without fans in attendance in May at a date and location to be determined. The health and safety of our competitors, employees, fans, and the communities in which we run continues to be our top priority. We will continue to consult with health experts and local, state and federal officials as we assess future scheduling options.”

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography ranging from Idaho athletics to auto racing with ambitions of having his work recognized.