NASCAR Cup Series fans might have to wait a bit longer to see cars on track again. On Monday, Virginia governor Ralph Northam issued an order for all citizens to remain home until 10 June barring any changes. While this order this follows similar decisions taken by other states, NASCAR’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway is scheduled for 9 May. The race had been expected to serve as the sport’s return date after a seven-race hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“NASCAR is aware of the stay-at-home order issued for Virginia,” a statement from the sanctioning body said. “We will continue discussions with public health officials and medical experts as we assess rescheduling options.”
Under the state order, Virginians are required to remain home outside of rare and exceptional circumstances like medical reasons and essential work. Violators may face a Class 1 misdemeanour charge, which may include prison time for at most twelve months and/or a $2,500 fine.
“This Executive Order shall be effective March 30, 2020, amends Amended Order of the Governor and State Health Commissioner Declaration of Public Health Emergency, Order of Public Health Emergency One and Executive Order 53, and shall remain in full force and in effect until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by further executive order,” the official declaration read.
In early March, the spread of the virus forced NASCAR to postpone much of its spring slate, including every April event, from Atlanta Motor Speedway to Dover International Speedway until further notice. NASCAR had gunned for Martinsville to mark the first race back, though Northam’s order puts that in jeopardy. NASCAR President Steve Phelps has reiterated the Cup Series’ intent to run all 36 races and make up the lost dates, including possibly racing on weekdays and hosting doubleheaders.
In the meantime, drivers have taken to iRacing.com to get their racing fix. The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series has proven to be a hit with fans and media after two races, with real-life underdog Timmy Hill scoring the win in Sunday’s Texas Motor Speedway sim race.