Darlington Raceway green-lights full capacity for September race

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Darlington Raceway won’t be at full capacity this weekend, but it will be for its second race date on Labor Day weekend.

The track announced Friday its grandstands will be at full capacity for the Southern 500 weekend on Sept 4-5.

“Our loyal race fans have displayed their passion for NASCAR at Darlington Raceway throughout the pandemic, so this is a key moment in our storied track’s history to fully open our gates once again for the fall race weekend featuring one of the crown jewel races of NASCAR, the Cook Out Southern 500,” Darlington President Kerry Tharp said in release. “Thanks to S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster and his administration for their collaboration in helping us take this step forward together as a state to welcome the best fans in motorsports back home to the track Too Tough To Tame.”

Darlington joins Atlanta Motor Speedway, who last month, that it will be at full capacity for its July race date as the sports continues to open things up after COVID-19 shutdown.

Last month at an event at the SC statehouse, Tharp was hopeful the track could operate at full capacity (47,000). Darlington is at will 35 percent — or 16,450 for the Throwback Weekend, which kicked off Friday and ends with Sunday’s Goodyear 400 Cup Series race.

For the first time since COVID-19 restrictions began, there will be sponsors and guests allowed in the garage area. Each team manufacturer and the track will get a handful of guests. Those guests must be fully vaccinated and each team must be responsible to confirm if the guest has been fully vaccinated.

Darlington Raceway was the site of NASCAR’s return from COVID-19 last May when it hosted two Cup races and an Xfinity Series race in a four-day span, all without spectators.

The track was awarded a second race date on the schedule this year for the first time since 2004. The spring race will be NASCAR’s Throwback Weekend, while the Southern 500 on Sept. 5 will be the first race in NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.