NASCAR ends coronavirus shutdown May 17 with wildly accelerated schedule

How does 7 races in 10 days grab you?

Is there anything more thrilling than a race restart? How about an entire race season restart? NASCAR announced Thursday that it will do just that. On May 17, stock car racing will resume with the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

As in many NASCAR races, what follows is going to be an intense and demanding championship run, as NASCAR intends to run seven races in the first 10 days of its revived schedule; three of those will be top-rung Cup Series races. For drivers who double-dip, May and June are shaping up to be challenging. 

Public health concerns forced NASCAR to suspend its season early in March after only four events; 32 remained on the schedule. This initial blitz will allow the series to make up for lost time, hopefully enabling the organizers to preserve the full racing calendar, albeit with modifications. 

After Darlington, the series will move on to Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

“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,” said NASCAR executive Steve O’Donnell in the official series announcement.

“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," O'Donnell said.

While the races are returning, fans cannot do the same. Not yet, anyway. NASCAR has set guidelines to safely hold the events using CDC guidelines on social distancing and personal protective equipment. Only essential personnel will be permitted to attend the events, and cloth face masks will be required.

Reporting from the Associated Press contributed to this story.

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