NASCAR isn’t looking at dropping any Cup Series races from the schedule in the midst of its postponement because of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
President Steve Phelps said Tuesday that NASCAR still intended to run all 36 Cup Series, a day after the sanctioning body extended its racing hiatus through May 3 (or seven races) following CDC guidelines severely limiting the number of people in a gathering.
“Most importantly we intend to race all our 36 points races as well as the All‑Star event,” Phelps said in a news conference. “What those look like at this particular point we're looking broadly about what our options are.
“At this particular point we would like to finish the season at Phoenix [as scheduled] 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.
“No specifics around midweek races. I've heard about doubleheaders, different things. At this particular point a lot of things on the table for us to look at, working with our race teams, working with our racetracks to make sure the things that we're putting on the table are feasible for us to do.”
There’s currently a two-week break built into the 2020 NASCAR schedule because TV partner NBC has the rights to the 2020 Summer Olympics. The Olympics are currently scheduled to proceed as normal and NASCAR could find itself needing to race during that originally scheduled time off.
NASCAR could also be the sports governing body under the most pressure to get all of its scheduled races completed simply because it’s the series that’s most dependent on sponsor revenue. Sponsors pay teams for specific numbers of races and if those numbers aren’t met, teams can be out revenue that they had planned for. And with many teams operating at the precipice of financial viability in a fully-operational NASCAR world, an extended break could be disastrous for those that work in the series.
“I think what I would say there, no specifics around subsidies or anything of that nature,” Phelps said when he was asked about NASCAR giving teams a financial assist. “We are working with our teams closely to have them industry-wide make sure we are all financially viable moving forward during this postponement of our races.”
Before Phelps’ news conference, NASCAR announced that all wind tunnel and simulator testing would be prohibited during the postponement period. That’s a move designed for teams to not feel like they need to be working during the break to gain an advantage over competitors when racing resumes.
Phelps was also asked if NASCAR was prepared for a longer break than what’s been announced. NASCAR said Monday that it was hoping and planning to have its first race after the postponement be at Martinsville Speedway on May 9 and Phelps echoed that.
“I think for us, we're concentrating on getting back to racing at Martinsville,” Phelps said. “We'll have to do scenario planning that will look different than that. Right now our priority is to get back to racing at Martinsville.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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