NASCAR and IndyCar both reversed course Friday and pulled the plug on racing this weekend, with IndyCar suspending its season through the end of April due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
NASCAR only suspended Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Both events were already scheduled to be run without spectators.
IndyCar was scheduled to open its season Sunday on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg without fans. Formula One also cancelled its season opening race in Australia, leaving the first weekend of global motorsports without a major event.
“After careful consideration, including regular communication with our event promoters, health officials, and the city administrations in our respective race markets regarding COVID-19, we have made the decision to cancel all events through April,” IndyCar said. “(The) safety of our fans, participants, staff, partners, and media will always remain our top priority.”
Defending series champion Josef Newgarden received word of the cancellation standing in the lobby of his hotel just a few feet from the entrance to the street course.
“Crazy times we are living in, man. Crazy times,” Newgarden said.
NASCAR said the decision to postpone the next two weeks “is in the best interest of the safety and well-being of our fans, competitors, officials and everyone associated with our sport.”
As college and professional sports leagues cancelled events or postponed their seasons one by one, NASCAR, IndyCar and F1 were left as the only entities planning to press ahead this weekend. Finally, even the prospect of staging the races Saturday and Sunday without fans was deemed to be unsafe.
There was no announcement of any plans to reschedule the races.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus within a few weeks.
Fryer reported from St. Petersburg, Florida. AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report from Atlanta.
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