NASCAR: Let’s try this one more time…

NASCAR, Atlanta (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NASCAR, Atlanta (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

NASCAR being on the cusp of a March race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway brings back unpleasant flashbacks from a year ago for many individuals.

As NASCAR headed to Atlanta Motor Speedway in mid-March last season preparing for a race weekend with events for all three national series following a successful Xfinity Series and Cup Series race weekend at Phoenix Raceway, little did anybody know that the sport would really be just getting underway with a 10-week hiatus.

The Truck Series and Xfinity Series were both scheduled to race around the four-turn, 1.54-mile (2.478-kilometer) oval in Hampton, Georgia on Saturday, March 14, and the Cup Series was scheduled to race at the track on Sunday, March 15. On-track action was scheduled to begin on Friday, March 13.

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But by Friday, March 13, many sporting leagues and events had already been put on hold or canceled completely due to the outbreak of COVID-19 having been officially declared a pandemic, including the NCAA basketball tournaments, the NBA season and the NHL season.

It looked as though NASCAR may be able to run races without fans in the stands as opposed to canceling completely.

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However, that morning, I received an email saying that “there are larger conversations about the race for this weekend currently happening”, and it was inevitable that there would be no sports, including motorsports, that weekend and beyond. Indeed, that’s how it unfolded.

While we now know that this no-fans strategy has worked as far as keeping the action going, not just for motorsports but other sports as well, the uncertainty at the time led to NASCAR suspending all action for the foreseeable future.

There ended up effectively being a second “offseason”, starting after the race at Phoenix Raceway, which is ironically the host of the actual season finale.

From Sunday, March 8 to Sunday, May 17, there was no live action. Darlington Raceway eventually hosted a previously non-scheduled event to get the season going again, and things went rather smoothly from there.

Atlanta Motor Speedway ended up hosting its race weekend for all three series in early June.

So here we are again, just over a year later.

We are again coming off of a successful Xfinity Series and Cup Series race weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

The Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Cup Series are again all at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In fact, it is the first of two scheduled trips to the track this season for the Xfinity Series and the Cup Series, with the other slated to come in July.

The Truck Series and Xfinity Series are scheduled to run today with the 130-lap Fr8Auctions 200 and the 163-lap EchoPark 250, respectively, while the Cup Series is scheduled to run tomorrow afternoon with the 325-lap Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

But despite the many unpleasant flashbacks we all have from last March, look at how far we have come in a year.

One driver, Truck Series driver Kris Wright, has even tested positive for COVID-19 and will not compete for Young’s Motorsports this weekend, making him the first driver to miss a race for that reason through six race weekends this season. Of course, it goes without saying that the main hope is that he is fine.

But the race weekend marches on, something that most never would have suggested last year at this time.

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Be sure not to miss any of this weekend’s action at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Tune in to Fox Sports 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET for the live broadcast of the Fr8Auctions 200 and stay tuned in for the EchoPark 250 at 5:00 p.m. ET. Tune in to Fox tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 p.m. ET for the live broadcast of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.