Live sports in Texas return next month. First stop? Texas Motor Speedway

Tribune Content Agency

Texas Motor Speedway will host the first live sporting event in the state next month.

IndyCar will run at the track on its scheduled date, Saturday June 6, although no fans will be allowed to attend. It will be a one-day made-for-TV event with practice and qualifying during the day, and racing at night.

The NASCAR truck series race that was scheduled for Friday, June 5, has been postponed.

“The June race is on,” TMS president Eddie Gossage said. “While it’s the first live sporting event in the state of Texas, it won’t have fans. Protecting everybody’s health is the top priority.”

This will mark the season opener for IndyCar, which has yet to run a race this season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Most competitors are expected to fly in and out on the same day. To accommodate the one-day schedule, the race is being shortened to 300 miles (200 laps) rather than the 248 laps originally scheduled.

Gossage said IndyCar and TMS were able to come to a financial agreement in which it made sense for both sides to host the event. However, Gossage said, “Everybody is still losing money.

“But it’s the right thing to do because we’re partners with each other and have been for a long time. We also need to prime the pump for the economy of motorsports. We’re all in this together.

“And this should be a great event for the sport. People are hungry for live sports television. This is going to be one of the most important events IndyCar racing has ever had.”

Along with limiting the number of people requiring overnight accommodations, other guidelines and protocols the track will follow include:

— Strict access guidelines limiting the number of personnel on site

— A health screening system administered to all participants

— PPE equipment provided to everyone entering the facility, along with guidelines on usage

— Social distancing protocols in place and carefully maintained

— Revised competition layout to increase distancing

TMS will use both of its 64-bay garages to accommodate the 24 teams running the race. There will also be ample distance between teams along pit road.

The media covering the race is expected to work from the upstairs press box, rather than the infield media center, and will conduct interviews virtually with drivers.

“We worked closely with public health officials to develop all of these protocols,” Gossage said.

At the end of the day, Gossage is excited to be hosting a race albeit without fans. He remains hopeful fans will be able to attend the two NASCAR race weekends — the fall races are set for Oct. 22-25 while the spring makeup date is to be announced.

“As we sit here right now, our schedule still includes running every race on our 2020 calendar,” Gossage said.


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