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NASCAR event organizers have announced their intentions to bring the series back to action on May 17th. 

The first race will be a NASCAR Cup Series event at South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway. It will take place behind closed doors. 

Over the first 11 days of the series’ resumption, seven different events are planned to go ahead. 

“Eager and excited” 

NASCAR has been out-of-action since March 8th. The most recent event was at the Phoenix Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. 

When talking about the return to action, Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell had the following to say. 

“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.”

The association has said that it will stick to the specific guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To maintain high levels of safety for both competitors and communities, the association has worked with both public health officials and medical experts. Moreover, local, state and federal officials have been contacted. 

A possible sign of light at the end of the tunnel 

The return of NASCAR means that it will be the first major sport in the US to be played since the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) reached the country. 

After the first event at the Darlington Raceway, the track will host an Xfinity series race two days later. Another NASCAR Cup Series event will then take place on May 20th. 

The Charlotte Motor Speedway will then take center stage. On May 24th and 27th, it will host NASCAR Cup Series races. On the dates in between that, Xfinity Series and Gander Trucks events will be held. 

In an article published by Associated Press, O’Donnell recognized that the success of these events could bode good future signs for this division of racing. 

He said the following. 

“We realize up front it’s a huge responsibility for us as a sport. 

“We’re certainly going to learn as we go, but the process we put in place, I think gives the industry the confidence that we can be first.”

Virtual sports has been filling the gap so far

While NASCAR hasn’t taken place in the real world for over two months, a virtual edition of the sport has kept fans entertained for the time being. 

‘eNASCAR’, which was originally launched in 2018, features 40 simulated racers completing a 20-race schedule – titled the Coca-Cola iRacing Series. 

The New Hampshire Lottery integrated the product to its offerings last month, to give players something to wager on for now. 

Other sports have adopted similar approaches. The ATP Virtual 1000 has developed for tennis by IMG ARENA, adding to its already-existing simulated offerings of soccer and basketball – plus more. 

How soon will other sports return? 

Other sports are planning a return, with some countries around the world allowing residents to slowly return to everyday life. 

Germany is one such country which recently relaxed some of its lockdown restrictions. The country’s main soccer division – the Bundesliga – is hoping to return soon.

The English Premier League (EPL) is plotting a return next month. However, it will only resume once the UK government says it’s okay to do so. Prime Minister Boris Johnson intends to announce an exit strategy this week for strict lockdown measures.

Elsewhere, UFC 249 is planned to go ahead on May 9th. Golf’s PGA tour is also working on resuming in the near future. TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, which is where the event will be held and has been closed since March 16th, recently reopened.

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