Last month the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 scheduled for March 29 at Texas Motor Speedway was postponed due to the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, along with the entire NASCAR schedule through May 3. Now, it seems, drivers may soon be making their way back onto the track.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday tweeted that he'd spoken with NASCAR leaders and that they were working on a way to get the cars racing again, although that plan won't, for now, include fans in the stands.
"Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has given NASCAR the green flag to race, and our sport is eager to get back on track," said Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway. "A non-spectator event is not perfect, because in our sport the fans come first. But circumstances are such that this is a novel answer for the return of the sport for now. We are now working on a hard date."
Gossage went on to say that NASCAR is unique compared to other contact sports because the drivers are alone in their cars with no body-to-body contact.
"That is a distinct advantage over other sports and why you will likely see auto racing as the first live sport returning to action. We appreciate the governor's support for the return of racing at Texas Motor Speedway very soon," Gossage said.
On Twitter, Gossage was asked if TMS employees will be tested before they host a race weekend -- Gossage said yes. TMS officials told NBC 5 Monday afternoon that specific details on how those employees would be tested was still being planned.
Officials have not said yet what the race lineup will be and when postponed races will be rescheduled.
Last week, Speedway Motorsports, the privately-held company that owns Texas Motor Speedway and eight other tracks around the country, announced they were furloughing 100 people and eliminating the positions of another 180 people due to the economic stress brought on by the pandemic.