ATLANTA—In wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, NASCAR is going dark for the next two weeks.
On Friday, NASCAR announced the postponement of this weekend's races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and next weekend’s events at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Although a condensed schedule had been proposed to run Gander Outdoors Truck Series qualifying and the race on Friday followed by both NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series on Saturday, the sanctioning body thought better of the decision.
“NASCAR has decided to postpone the race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend and Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend,” NASCAR said in a statement released Friday morning. "We believe this decision is in the best interest of the safety and well-being of our fans, competitors, officials and everyone associated with our sport. We will continue to monitor this dynamic situation as we assess future race events.”
Moments later, IndyCar announced it was canceling its events through April starting with this weekend’s season opener the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
"After careful consideration, including regular communication with our event promoters, health officials, and the city administrations in our respective race markets regarding COVID-19, we have made the decision to cancel all NTT INDYCAR Series events through April,” said the IndyCar statement. “This begins with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg which was to begin today and run through Sunday, March 15 and continues through the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas which was to take place April 24-26.
“Although we are disappointed to delay the start to this INDYCAR season and will miss our incredible fans who support us each year in St. Petersburg, Birmingham, Long Beach, and Austin, the safety of our fans, participants, staff, partners, and media will always remain our top priority. We will continue to coordinate with public health experts and government officials as we determine the appropriate plans for resuming our schedule."
Last night, the Monster Energy SuperCross Series canceled this weekend’s activities in Indianapolis, after Major League Baseball shut down Spring Training and delayed the start of the 2020 season by two weeks. The NBA canceled its games and the NHL paused play for the immediate future. Midway through Thursday’s games, the NCAA announced it was canceling March Madness and all conference tournaments in all sports. On Friday morning, The Masters added the postponement of its tournament as well.
The cancelation marks the first time NASCAR has postponed activities since the events at Dover International Speedway were delayed a week following the September 11 attacks in 2011.
Truck champion Matt Crafton applauded NASCAR for its decision. Crafton also hopes he’ll eventually have the opportunity to compete for the $50,000 bounty established by Halmar International for the first full-time NGROTS regular who can beat Kyle Busch in a truck race.
“Atlanta is my favorite track to go to, but this was the right thing to do for the safety of everybody,” Crafton said. “I look forward to getting back after it—especially with the truck bounty. Hopefully, they’ll get this race rescheduled.”