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NASCAR is holding the race at the famed South Carolina track without fans in attendance and with a host of enhanced safety measures in place, including health screenings for participants. Since officials have put a temporary moratorium on pre-race practice and qualifying sessions, Almirola said drivers will have to get re-acclimated to a live racing environment.
“It’s going to be wild,” Almirola told FOX Business. “This is unprecedented times. The time that we’ve been off right now has been as long, if not longer, than our actual offseason. And even in the offseason, there’s a couple of times that we test during the offseason before the season actually starts, so we’re actually in our race car before the season starts at Daytona.”
“Here, we’ve been off for two months and we’re going to climb back into our race cars with zero practice,” Almirola added. “I’m sure there’s some cobwebs and some rust we’ll have to knock off in those first few laps.”
NASCAR unveiled its plan to restart racing in late April, announcing a slate of seven events over an 11-day span. Venues were selected based on their proximity to NASCAR team race shops in North Carolina.
The stock car circuit is among the first sports to resume live events since mid-March, when the pandemic forced the NBA, MLB and other sports leagues to go on hiatus. Top sports executives are coordinating with federal and state officials to develop plans that will allow play to safely resume.
Almirola, who drives the No. 10 car for Stewart-Haas Racing, said there was no hesitation among drivers about NASCAR’s restart.
“I think for us, we're just all gonna be diligent about, you know, practicing protocol and, you know, keeping in mind that we want to be safe and and we want to continue on with their lives,” he said. “We want to go back to work and we want to go back to racing and want to go back to putting on events for fans to tune into TV.”
The NASCAR Cup Series’ return to Darlington Raceway will air Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox.
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