One of the highlights of the NASCAR season is the annual visit to Kansas by the drivers and their teams. It’s not uncommon for the temperature to rise above 100 degrees during the race weekend, so the teams and drivers take their pick of water stations and gas stations along with them as they hit the track. It’s tradition for fans to pack the stands and hang onto their hats as the drivers tear through the state, causing traffic jams and some serious burning rubber.
But now, with concerns about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) at the forefront of everyone’s minds, is this event still worth attending? Will the drivers and teams be taking a cautious approach, or will they be going at it with full-bodies covering? Let’s take a look at what’s happening and if and when this year’s event will be different.
Has The Event Been Rescheduled?
The NASCAR season was canceled, and with it, the Kansas race. However, that doesn’t mean the drivers and teams will be staying away. In fact, the exact opposite is true. The teams will be traveling to the Kansas Speedway to practice and get ready for the summer race season, which will begin in July.
Even in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, sports continue to take place. The Tampa Bay Lightning have played several home games, and the New York Yankees have held training camp. So while there is some public concern regarding the safety of spectators and teams at a motor sports event, it doesn’t mean the athletes aren’t out there playing. And, in fact, many are pushing for an eventual return of sports. One of the benefits of practicing during these unprecedented times is that you’ll be ready for whatever the world throws your way.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic was felt immediately by all aspects of society, and it wasn’t just confined to one area of the country. There were cases in every state, and it wasn’t until mid-April that things started to flatten out.
The question now is: Can NASCAR continue operations while following safety precautions? It’s a challenging question, and it all comes down to the location of the races. Kansas is one of the first states to introduce a lock-down order, and it remains one of the strictest. The other option is to move the races to a different state (there are currently 14 races on the schedule, with four more to be held in June). But with travel restrictions and the need for teams and personnel to practice, this may not be practical.
Is Tony Stewart Still Going To Be At Kansas?
Yes, Tony Stewart will be at the Kansas Speedway this year. However, he will be entering from the back because of a qualifying rule that was put in place due to the pandemic. This year, all cars must be propelled by engines rather than fuel tanks, and the engine must be within 300 cubic inches. This effectively eliminates all prototypes and all cars driven by guest drivers.
So while many have shifted their focus to the virtual world and tried to find enjoyment in whatever free time they have, Stewart has chosen to remain at the track. He will be at the Kansas Speedway this year, and this will be his 37th consecutive season. Hopefully, we’ll see a few more years in NASCAR for this passionate driver. He has a lot of life left in him, and he can still drive his car with the same passion that made him a star in the first place.
The last time we saw Stewart at the Kansas Speedway was on April 27th. At the time, he was leading the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Even though he was eliminated after 3 rounds, he finished the season 15th in the points standings. It was a disappointing end to what was otherwise a record-breaking season. But what would a NASCAR season be without a little bit of tragedy?
The same cannot be said for the 2020 season though. With the way things are going right now, even finishing in the top 15 in the standings would be considered a great feat. Not a lot of drivers would choose to stay at a resort over the summer rather than head to the dragstrip. This is a testament to Stewart’s loyalty to the sport and to his fans. He may have lost his shot at the title this year, but with any luck, he’ll at least get to finish in the top 10 in points.