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Austin Dillon self-reported a positive COVID-19 test to Richard Childress Racing on Saturday, a development that will keep him out of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course.
Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet, is self-quarantining, the team said. RCR has named Kaz Grala as his replacement this weekend for Sunday’s Go Bowling 235 (3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM), the first Cup Series race on the 3.61-mile oval and road-course layout.
Dillon’s wife Whitney and son Ace remain healthy and symptom-free, according to a team statement.
Dillon may be eligible to return to competition if he receives two negative COVID-19 test results, from tests taken at least 24 hours apart. He must also receive written clearance to resume racing activity from his personal physician. If Dillon is unable to produce two negative tests within the 10-day period for his initial positive test, his return status may be reviewed by a NASCAR consulting physician.
Dillon qualified for the NASCAR Playoffs with a victory July 19 at Texas Motor Speedway. Once the team requests it, Dillon will receive a medical waiver to ease the requirement that he compete in every race to retain his postseason eligibility.
PHOTOS: Austin Dillon through the years
Dillon, the grandson of team owner Richard Childress, is currently in his seventh full season of Cup Series competition. The 30-year-old driver has three premier-series wins, including the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 and the 2018 Daytona 500 and has won championships in the Xfinity Series (2013) and Gander Trucks (2011).
“RCR takes the safety of our employees, fellow competitors, fans, partners and outside vendors seriously,” the team said in a statement. “Based upon recommendations outlined by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NASCAR and our health partners at Wake-Forest Baptist Health, RCR has enacted procedures and safety protocols designed to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread. These guidelines were developed in close consultation with a panel of medical experts with broad experience in infectious diseases, many of whom have been on the front line in treating COVID-19 patients across the country. We will continue to adhere to these guidelines in order to protect the health and safety of our employees and their families, and our business partners.”
Grala will be making his Cup Series debut in Sunday’s 65-lap event. Since its a driver change, Grala will drop to the rear during pace laps instead of starting 10th as Dillon would have. The 21-year-old Grala has entered two Xfinity Series races for RCR this season, matching his career-best with a fourth-place finish last weekend at Road America. Grala also has experience on the Daytona Road Course layout, twice sharing driving duties in a Lamborghini for Change Racing in IMSA’s Rolex 24 (2016-17).
Grala’s lone national-series win was a historic one, also at Daytona International Speedway. He prevailed from the pole position, driving a GMS Racing entry to victory in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series’ 2017 opener to become the 2.5-mile speedway’s youngest winner at 18 years, 1 month and 26 days old.
Rules for the weekend stipulate that no driver may compete in multiple national-series races on the Daytona Road Course.