NASCAR: First driver of 2021 to miss race with COVID-19

Kris Wright, Young's Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Kris Wright, Young's Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

The sixth race weekend of the 2021 NASCAR season at Atlanta Motor Speedway sees the first driver sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19.

After a handful of drivers were sidelined throughout the 2020 NASCAR season due to testing positive for COVID-19, the first five race weekends of the 2021 season, which included five Cup Series races, five Xfinity Series races and three Truck Series races, were contested without anybody sitting out.

However, that has changed this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Rookie Kris Wright, who has competed for Young’s Motorsports in two of the first three races of the Truck Series season, was set to do so again this afternoon in the Fr8Auctions 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway behind the wheel of the #02 Chevrolet.

But Wright has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not get to do so.

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Josh Berry, who has competed in four of the first five races of the Xfinity Series season for JR Motorsports behind the wheel of the #8 Chevrolet, is set to replace Wright behind the wheel of the #02 Chevrolet for this afternoon’s 130-lap race around the four-turn, 1.54-mile (2.478-kilometer) oval in Hampton, Georgia.

Berry has competed in just one Truck Series race throughout his career, with that race coming back in September 2016 at Chicagoland Speedway. He finished in 13th place.

Wright, who had made just one Truck Series start entering the season, made his first two starts of the season at Daytona International Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway and finished in 12th and 25th place, respectively. Kaz Grala drove the #02 Chevrolet in the race at the Daytona International Speedway road course and finished in eighth.

The 26-year-old Wexford, Pennsylvania native is set to run the season’s remaining 18 races on the schedule but needs to test negative for COVID-19 twice, with those two tests coming at least 24 hours apart, in order to be allowed to return. He will also need medical clearance from his doctor.

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Tune in to Fox Sports 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET this afternoon for the live broadcast of the Fr8Auctions 200 from Atlanta Motor Speedway. Team Penske Cup Series driver Ryan Blaney is set to be the driver analyst for this event.