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Column: NASCAR begins allowing access one year after restart


CHARLOTTE, NC – Kevin Harvick crossed the finish line at Darlington Raceway a year ago and was shaken by the peace and silence of the vacant grandchildren.

“I didn’t think it was going to be so different, and then we won the race and it’s dead,” Harvick said. “It’s weird. There’s no one there.”

NASCAR re-opened its infield to sponsors, guests and media in Darlington last weekend as a trial run. Since March 8, 2020, garages and infield have been closed to almost all, and NASCAR President Steve Phelps said it would remain until a vaccine was widely available.

Vaccines have been available since early April for nearly everyone in North Carolina, where most NASCAR teams are based, and this allowed NASCAR to create a plan to reopen. No vaccine is required for contestants, but NASCAR allowed teams, drivers and manufacturers to accept 350 fully vaccinated guests and sponsors on Sunday in Darlington.

“This is very important for us. Some of the key players and our sponsors are interested in it, and they like to be here and be a part of it, ”said team owner Joe Gibbs, bass pro shops Johnny Morris for the winning car, driven by Martin Tricks Jr. Gibbs of his guests. between.

“We were seen flying from all sides,” Gibbs said. “It’s very important, to bring those important people back from the companies to our game, and I look forward to going again and doing hospitality.”

The enfield in Dover will be closed later this week, but Charlett is expected to expand the footprint for 550 sponsors and guests at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas and the Coca-Cola 600 in Texas later this month. Those two races will help reach the advancing protocol.

A year ago, NASCAR restarted its engines 71 days after the series closed and it was the first major game to complete its full season last November. It did this by never changing its processes during the epidemic.

NASCAR does not test for COVID-19 and temperature probes and health checks are used because the game has not resumed. The motorhome lot has been largely closed to families, which caused some grumbling as some drivers noted that it was absurd to implement fading during a race to spend time together away from the track.

Motorsports are unlike any other sport in which the industry’s identity is the most retrospective experience offered to sponsors, fans, and even families of competitors:

– A driver can bring his children to a pre-race meeting, post-race news conference, and stand on his car with his entire family until his engine starts.

– The sponsor is given entry to the team, can sit at the pit stand during the race, or mingle with the customers and customers in the hospitality suite while meeting with the driver and team owner.

– Fans can buy passes in the garage and roll cars through inspection, walk down the pit road and position themselves to chase their favorite driver for a selfie or autograph. Enfield camping spots sometimes travel by driver on a carriage.

IndyCar has two industry-wide mass vaccinations, will host 135,000 fans at the Indianapolis 500 on May 30 and has been operating the business as usual since last month’s season. But some drivers at NASCAR have expressed reservations about the vaccine, and Phelps called the shot a “slightly slippery slope”, so it took time to reopen the garage.

This has come with some confusion about current regulations for garage decorations, with facade mandates being lifted, particularly in various states. Darlington Weekend marked the first time Fox Pitt reporters Jamie Little and Regan Smith did not wear masks while on camera; Some drivers took off their masks.

NASCAR clarified on Monday that masks are still mandatory in the garage for all but drivers, who are socially deformed when interviewed on camera.

Truex worked on his brother-in-law Sheldon Creed’s winning truck and may not be part of the photos Friday night: “He’s like ‘They won’t give us victory lane and I don’t understand because we were all wearing masks and when we Here we work in victory lane so we all ride home in a van together.

It was the same for Truex as it celebrated its third win of the season without too much of its crew.

He said, “I think the time has come to do it, like we always did, and I think it’s going slowly.” “I can’t wait until it’s back to the way it used to be.”

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More AP Auto Racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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