North Carolina governor OKs NASCAR to race at Charlotte

Sports

FILE – In this Sept. 28, 2019, file photo Chase Briscoe (98) leads the field of cars to start the NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. General Motors is planning to open a new technical center for performance and auto racing near the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The center will focus on transferring auto racing knowledge into engineering for vehicles that are sold to the public. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn, File)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The governor of North Carolina said Tuesday that NASCAR can go forward with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway without fans in attendance at the end of May unless health conditions deteriorate in the state.

Gov. Roy Cooper said he and state public health officials have had discussions with NASCAR and the speedway regarding safety protocols for staging the race. Cooper said the state offered input on NASCAR’s plan, but he believes the race can go forward on Memorial Day weekend for the 60th consecutive year.

“We believe that unless health conditions go down, we believe we can hold the Coca-Cola 600,” Cooper said.

He said NASCAR should have an announcement later this week.

NASCAR on Monday gave teams its latest revised schedule, which shows racing resuming May 17 at Darlington Speedway in South Carolina, followed by a second race at that track on May 20. The 600 would be held on May 24, followed by a second race at Charlotte on May 27.

Most teams are based in the Charlotte area and are expected to return to work this week as essential businesses. Cooper last week extended North Carolina’s stay-at-home order through May 8.

NASCAR completed four of its 36 races before the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. The sanctioning body has vowed to run 36 races, although the schedule will change dramatically and some tracks likely will be dropped this season if their state does not permit a sporting event.

NASCAR has yet to publicly release its safety plans but is expected to limit team rosters, have one-day events and scrap qualifying and practice at many places. A proposal to eliminate pit stops to reduce the number of team employees at the track has stalled.

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