After a nine-week suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, NASCAR will make its return to the track without fans this Sunday at Darlington Raceway for the first of three races in four days.
“We're honored, we're humbled, we're excited, but yet we also know we have a big responsibility on us. We have to get this right. The main thing that we want to do is create a safe environment for our competitors,” Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp said.
In order to do that, NASCAR worked closely with numerous health officials to implement a comprehensive health and safety plan, but another challenge that teams will face is the fact that there will be no practice sessions or qualifying prior to racing.
"You're going to take the green flag and you're going to go racing at Darlington, to me that's pretty daunting. I know a lot of these drivers have been doing the iRacing over the past couple of months, but we're talking about a big time 3,600 pound race car that's going to go an excess of 190mph on a track surface that’s not that wide, and you're going to be racing against 36, 37 other people that haven't been racing in a while and a lot of them don't like you," Tharp said.
At the end of the day, NASCAR hopes the excitement on the track will lift the spirits of the everyone and be the first step of the way back to all live sports.
"I just think that this is going to be a great opportunity for Darlington, a great opportunity for South Carolina and certainly a great opportunity for NASCAR to showcase to the world that hey we're bringing live sports back and we hope you enjoy it," Tharp said.
The green flag for the Cup Series race is set to wave at 3:30 this Sunday