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NASCAR Schedule Release: Racing Returns in May Without Fans Due to Coronavirus

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On Thursday, NASCAR announced racing will return in May with seven events in 11 days, at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway, beginning May 17. Cup Series and Xfinity Series races will be run at both locations, and the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series will return with a race at Charlotte.

NASCAR has been taking steps to create a safe return and was working with health professionals to discuss how to make it happen.

Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said in the announcement:

"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. 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."

The announcement also said, "All races will be strictly tailored, in every way, to follow specific guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

Here is the current schedule: (All times Eastern)

Date

Location

Series

Distance

Start time

Network

May 17

Darlington Raceway

Cup Series

400 miles

3:30 p.m.

FOX

May 19

Darlington Raceway

Xfinity Series

200 miles

8:00 p.m.

FS1

May 20

Darlington Raceway

Cup Series

500 kilometers

7:30 p.m.

FS1

May 24

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Cup Series

600 miles

6:00 p.m.

FOX

May 25

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Xfinity Series

300 miles

7:30 p.m.

FS1

May 26

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Gander Trucks

200 miles

8:00 p.m.

FS1

May 27 Charlotte Motor Speedway Cup Series 500 kilometers 8:00 p.m. FS1

None of these races will have practice sessions, and qualifying will only be held for the much anticipated Coca-Cola 600, which will go on as scheduled during Memorial Day weekend for the race's 60th anniversary.

NASCAR still plans to run a full schedule, including a complete postseason, and says the events on the current schedule are not in place of those originally scheduled. While that is the plan, for now, they said in the announcement that the situation could always change. The governing body is still asking the teams and drivers to practice social distancing and take the necessary health precautions while working with the vehicles. The use of protective equipment and health screenings are also required.

Last week, the North Carolina governor announced race teams are allowed back in shops, a major step in bringing back live racing. 

Since the announcement, the state also announced they would welcome back racing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, joining other states including South Carolina in doing so. 

Before the stoppage, NASCAR only held four of the 36 scheduled Cup Series races.

The coronavirus pandemic has cause most sports to halt completely to keep all involved safe from the virus, but after over a month without events, many leagues are beginning to create plans for a return.   

This story was originally published by CBS Sports on April 30, 2020.

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