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NASCAR suspends season until May but will reschedule events

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 06: A general view of the NASCAR Cup Series logo during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 06, 2020 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR has suspended its season until May as part of the CDC’s recommendation to postpone gatherings for the next eight weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision came after at least
two Monday conference calls between the sanctioning body and its team
owners. It affects seven total races — Atlanta and Homestead had already
been postponed.

“The health and safety of our fans, industry and the communities in which we race is our most important priority,” NASCAR said.

The series plans to return to the track at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia on May 9.

intend to hold all 36 races this season, with future rescheduling soon
to be determined as we continue to monitor this situation closely with
public health officials and medical experts,” NASCAR said. “What is
important now transcends the world of sports and our focus is on
everyone’s safety and well-being as we navigate this challenging time

NASCAR first said it would run last weekend and this
coming weekend without spectators, but reversed course Friday and
postponed the races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami

NASCAR had not addressed anything beyond Homestead until Monday’s announcement.

and Formula One both canceled last weekend’s season-opening races,
IndyCar has suspended the season through the end of April and F1 said
upcoming races in Bahrain, Vietnam and China are postponed.

most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms,
such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people
with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness,
including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new
virus within a few weeks.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway early Monday
issued a statement acknowledging the CDC guideline against gatherings,
is planning for all contingencies, but also is prepared to run its
events in May. The Indy 500, scheduled for May 24, typically draws more
than 300,000 fans.

The speedway — and now the season — are
scheduled to open the first week of May. Roger Penske, the new owner of
IndyCar and the speedway, hopes to open the speedway a few days before
the May 9 race on the road course to build in test days. Penske wants
teams as prepared as possible for the Indianapolis 500.

priority is to do our part in protecting the public health while still
conducting the 104th Indianapolis 500,” the speedway said. “This
continues to be a dynamic situation which we are monitoring constantly
in coordination with federal, state, local and public health officials.
We are planning for all contingencies and will be prepared to run the
GMR Grand Prix and Indy 500 as the COVID-19 situation permits.”

17-race schedule has been hit hard by the coronavirus because street
races in St. Petersburg, Florida and Long Beach, California, have been
canceled outright. Two road course events in Birmingham, Alabama, and
Austin, Texas, could be rescheduled.

Nearly every racing series
in the world has ceased competition since coronavirus became a global
pandemic. IMSA moved the 12 Hours of Sebring scheduled for this weekend
until November’s season finale.

Organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans said Monday a decision will be made in mid-April about its June race.

ran its first 10 races but the 2020 season has been postponed until
further notice. The series has canceled five races — at Indianapolis,
Detroit, Seattle, Denver and Foxboro. No makeup dates were announced for
the April 25 event at Las Vegas and the May 2 race at Salt Lake City.

postponed the 51st annual Gatornationals last weekend. The next
scheduled event was April 3-5 at Las Vegas but the sanctioning body
Monday suspended the season 30 days. NHRA said it intends to resume
events April 17-19 in Houston.

“We made this decision with heavy
hearts as we see the effects this pandemic is having on the world,” NHRA
said in a statement. “We are all in this complicated uncertain and
rapidly changing situation together, and we encourage everyone to look
out for each other.”

World of Outlaws postponed all races through
April 9 so far, while Formula E has suspended the next two months of its
2020-21 season.