How can you plan something when you really don’t know the situation that you’re going to be in when you are actually able to resume normally again? The whole world is in this boat right now. Everyone can say what they want, but in all reality, you don’t know what you don’t know and no one right now on this planet has definite answers.
NASCAR though, still held a teleconference on Tuesday afternoon to discuss plans moving forward. President Steve Phelps talked for nearly 20 minutes about expectations, but even he isn’t sure how this is going to go.
“There are questions we simply do not have answers for at this time,” Phelps started off saying. I mean, he’s not wrong. How can he have answers when we don’t even have a set date on a return.
Right now, the CDC had warned everyone to not go out in groups of larger than 250 people for the next eight weeks. That was Sunday. That number dropped to 10 people by Monday. That takes us to the second weekend of May. So, NASCAR obliged on their end and rightfully postponed the next seven races until that point. But, even then, we don’t know if we can race on May 9 at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway or take more time off.
How can you plan to start back up then when it’s a fluid situation? No one, and I mean no one, knows if this COVOID-19 will have diminished by then. All NASCAR and other sports leagues can do is plan for next but next may not even be the right answer.
Plan for May but as President Donald Trump said on Monday, this thing could last until late summer too.
NASCAR would like to have plans in place for when they eventually get back going but how do they really know when that is?
As of now, the plan is the weekend of May 8-10. Will there be fans in the stands when they get to the .526-mile Virginia oval?
“Would we consider racing without fans at some point to get back racing more quickly? That’s in the consideration,” Phelps said.
He hopes they don’t have to do that, but he doesn’t have a good answer on if they will indeed or not. Phelps says that their primary focus for when they do get back going are to keep everyone involved in the sport healthy. Then, it’s to keep the fans in the stands healthy. He said that whenever they do start back up, it will be a situation like last weekend in Atlanta to keep everyone healthy and that they will heed to CDC warnings.
“Things change so rapidly for mass gatherings.”
Also, how do you fit all seven races in before the end of the year? Do you race during the scheduled Olympic break? Do you extend the season past November 8? Do you run doubleheaders? Do you run mid-week races?
Phelps, said that everything is on the table in getting these postponed races in. He says that they will do everything in their power to run all 36 races in 2020. They feel like they owe it to the fans to do that. How they do so though, remains to be seen and that’s because we don’t know exactly when we can get going again. Is it really May 9 in Martinsville or is it later? Nothing is set in stone.
What is though is, Phoenix is going to remain as the season finale and the playoffs will be the same 10 scheduled races. The goal is to get any postponed race in before the playoffs start as NASCAR isn’t interested in doubleheader races during the 10 race postseason.
So far, out of the seven tracks that have had a postponed event, Texas, Bristol, Richmond and Talladega all have races in the playoffs. We now know that none of those four will have a doubleheader in the postseason.
Everything else though is still on the table including the All-Star race. That means in all likelihood then that the season is getting extended past Nov. 8.
Think about it, if they plan on running all 36 races, plus the All-Star race and they’re not going to make up races in the postseason, then we need to fit seven weeks worth of races from May on and only have two weeks off to do so. Midweek races will certainly help, but do they do five of them?
“A lot of things are on the table,” Phelps says on making this work.
Also, when we get back racing, will all the teams still be here? Without races, teams aren’t getting paid. Will NASCAR step in and give them an advancement?
NASCAR says that they are working with teams to ensure financial viability but they don’t think that they will necessarily pay them. They did say that they are worried for their teams and their future outlook during these trying times but there’s not much that they can do to help.
“We want to make sure teams get through this,” Phelps said.
What about the NextGen car? Right now, NASCAR isn’t necessarily worried about debuting that car next February as they’re working diligently to stay on schedule. Phelps said that it’s too early to tell though right now.
“We continue to have barriers placed in front of us and we will adapt to them as they come.”
As you can tell, there’s some clarity but the smoke is still thick in front of us. No one really knows how to handle this and that’s because no one has ever been through it. Everyone is trying their best but it’s hard when the goal is a moving target.