NASCAR competition officials said Tuesday that the remaining national series events on the 2020 schedule will be held without practice and qualifying.
The move is part of a continued effort to limit at-track time for teams, officials, safety workers and other essential personnel under COVID-19 health protocols. The safeguards — which include at-track screening and limited team rosters — have been in place since NASCAR returned to the track in May after a two-month layoff because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Following discussions with our race teams and the broader industry, NASCAR will continue to conduct its race weekends without practice and qualifying for the remainder of the 2020 season in all three national series,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition. “The current format has worked well in addressing several challenges during our return to racing. Most importantly, we have seen competitive racing week-to-week. NASCAR will adjust the starting lineup draw procedure for the Playoff races, and will announce the new process at a later date.”
Miller had suggested on a Monday appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the structure of the starting lineup draw may change before the NASCAR Playoffs, giving postseason-eligible drivers an equal chance at a favorable draw by keeping them in the same group. The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are expected to open Sept. 6 at Darlington Raceway.
Only two national series events have been held with practice or qualifying since NASCAR’s return. The Cup Series held same-day qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway before the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24, and the Xfinity Series conducted a pair of practice sessions before its inaugural race on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s oval and road course layout on July 4.
Miller told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday that practice and qualifying would likely be suspended at least through events scheduled Aug. 21-23 at Dover International Speedway.
“To have practice and qualifying, we have to have more people on the rosters,” Miller said. “There’s a lot more things that need to go on in the garage area, so very much more difficult to execute all the safety protocols with the COVID-19. To get back to anything different than what we’re doing now is really going to take a significant change in sort of the landscape on COVID-19.”
Since returning to action in May, NASCAR officials have determined starting lineups by either random draws according to groups based on team owner standings or — in the case of the second race during a weekend doubleheader at the same track — an inversion of the top 20 finishers from the previous event (in the Cup Series) and an inversion of the top 15 finishers (in the Xfinity and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series).