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NASCAR realigns 2020 schedule, shifts events from Chicagoland, Richmond, Sonoma

NASCAR officials announced Friday three tracks will have races reassigned to Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway later this month as the sport attempts to hold its first events since the COVID-19 outbreak.

The realignment shifts events away from Chicagoland Speedway, Richmond Raceway (spring) and Sonoma Raceway on the 2020 calendar. According to officials from the sanctioning body, future adjustments to this season’s schedule “will be released in the near future.”

NASCAR initially announced portions of a revised May schedule on April 30, adding national series events at Darlington and Charlotte. Those tracks were chosen for NASCAR’s return to competition in part because of their proximity to the industry’s Charlotte-area hub, as officials try to minimize travel demands and limit the amount of at-track personnel with one-day events.

MORE: NASCAR revises May schedule

“Due to the current pandemic, NASCAR has faced several difficult decisions, including realigning race dates from several race tracks,” the NASCAR statement read. “These decisions were made following thorough collaboration with local and state government officials from across the country, including the areas of the affected race tracks. We thank all our fans for their support, and we look forward to our return to racing.”

Further details about the changes to the 2020 racing schedule:

Chicagoland’s NASCAR Cup Series race — originally set for June 21 — has been reassigned to Darlington on May 17. The 1.5-mile Illinois track’s Xfinity Series race that was scheduled June 20 will be held May 19 at Darlington. Chicagoland was also set to host the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (June 19) and ARCA Menards Series (June 18); officials indicated those races will be reassigned at a later date.

 Richmond Raceway’s springtime Cup Series event on the initial schedule for April 19 has been moved to Darlington on May 20. A Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race that was to be run April 18 remains postponed, with officials saying details would come later for rescheduling. The .75-mile Virginia track’s Sept. 11-12 race weekend remains on the schedule.

Sonoma Raceway’s Cup Series date for June 14 has been moved to Charlotte on May 27. Officials for the road course said in a release they had worked with NASCAR to find an alternate date on the schedule, but a suitable replacement could not be reached, “given the ongoing uncertainty around large events in California.”

Each of the three tracks released statements, saying ticketholders for the canceled races would receive a full refund or a 120-percent credit toward a future event.

• Chicagoland Speedway president Scott Paddock: “The difficult decision to realign our race events was a combination of where we fell on the schedule, proximity to NASCAR’s teams and the safety and well-being of our community and larger NASCAR industry. We will miss the roar of the engines at Chicagoland Speedway this season, but we will be rooting for and supporting our NASCAR colleagues at Darlington Raceway as competition returns on Sunday, May 17.”

• Richmond Raceway president Dennis Bickmeier: “As a sport, we continue to be united in the best interests of the safety and well-being of our fans, competitors, stakeholders, and track personnel. There will be brighter and healthier days ahead in the greater Richmond region when NASCAR returns to Richmond Raceway for the NASCAR Playoff Race Weekend on Sept. 11-12. We look forward to NASCAR’s best getting back on the track at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, May 17 as we launch a new countdown to the return of racing in RVA this fall.”

• Sonoma Raceway president and general manager Steve Page: “We work all year for this event, so this is a huge disappointment for us, for our fans and our sponsors, but we realize it’s part of a larger challenge facing our nation and everyone in the live events business. We are excited that NASCAR is coming back to broadcast television and are ready to support the upcoming events at our Speedway Motorsports tracks. We look forward to NASCAR’s return to Sonoma in 2021.”