NASCAR postpones Atlanta, Miami races
A day after NASCAR announced it would hold races this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway without fans in attendance due to concerns about the coronavirus, teams were told to pack up Friday morning as races officially were postponed.
In addition, NASCAR announced Friday it also would postpone races set for next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"NASCAR has decided to postpone the race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend and Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend. We believe this decision is in the best interest of the safety and well-being of our fans, competitors, officials and everyone associated with our sport," said NASCAR in a statement Friday. "We will continue to monitor this dynamic situation as we assess future race events."
Affected races in Atlanta are the Trucks Series' Camping World 200 and Xfinity Series' EchoPark 250 on Saturday, and the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday. Miami's races were the Trucks on March 20, Xfinity's USCENSUS.GOV 300 on March 21 and the Cup Series' Dixie Vodka 400 on March 22.
Also Friday, IndyCar announced it would cancel its NTT IndyCar Series events through April, affecting four races beginning with what would have been the season-opening race this weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla. The cancellations include the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama on April 5, Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) on April 19 and the AutoNation IndyCar Challenge in Austin, Texas, on April 26.
"After careful consideration, including regular communication with our event promoters, health officials, and the city administrations in our respective race markets regarding COVID-19, we have made the decision to cancel all NTT INDYCAR Series events through April. ...
"Although we are disappointed to delay the start to this INDYCAR season and will miss our incredible fans who support us each year in St. Petersburg, Birmingham, Long Beach, and Austin, the safety of our fans, participants, staff, partners, and media will always remain our top priority. We will continue to coordinate with public health experts and government officials as we determine the appropriate plans for resuming our schedule."
On Thursday, NASCAR had announced that the upcoming races in Atlanta and Miami would be held without fans, restricting the events to competitors, crews, officials and other necessary personnel.
The last time NASCAR postponed a race for non-weather-related reasons was the 2001 New Hampshire race following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Also in response to the spread of the coronavirus, several NASCAR teams announced Thursday that their garages would be closed to visitors. Joe Gibbs Racing, Leavine Family Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing all closed their facilities to the public.