NASCAR postpones races at Atlanta and Homestead, IndyCar cancels first four races due to coronavirus

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 06: A general view of the NASCAR Cup Series logo during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 06, 2020 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NASCAR and IndyCar have now done what nearly every other sports league and organization in the United States has done. They have halted events amidst the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The sanctioning body announced Friday that races at Atlanta Motor Speedway (March 14-15) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (March 20-22) would be postponed. NASCAR was preparing to run the races without fans but made the decision before events at Atlanta got underway on Friday that it would go ahead and cancel. The two tracks were each set to host Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Cup Series races.

“NASCAR has decided to postpone the race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend & Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend,” a statement from the sanctioning body said. “We believe this decision is in the best interest of the safety & well-being of our fans, competitors, officials and everyone associated with our sport.”

[Coronavirus latest: How the global health scare is impacting sports]

IndyCar is reportedly making the same decision regarding its race at St. Petersburg and the three races that follow. That St. Pete race, the 2020 season-opener, was set for Sunday. The Long Beach Grand Prix was canceled earlier in the week and races at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, and Circuit of the Americas in Austin are now also canceled.

“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 NTT Indycar Series events through April,” IndyCar’s statement said. “This begins with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg which was to begin to day and run through Sunday, March 15, and continues through the AutoNation IndyCar Challenge at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, which was to take place April 24-26.”

NASCAR’s decision to cancel, however, wasn’t a straightforward one. Information spread on social media from those inside the series before NASCAR’s cancellation that races at Atlanta would be run on Friday and Saturday instead of on Saturday and Sunday. Less than an hour later, word trickled out that the races wouldn’t happen as scheduled.

The decision also came after those in the industry traveled to Atlanta for the race weekend. Instead of being proactive and canceling the races before travel plans could be executed, NASCAR made the decision to cancel only after many people got to Atlanta and potentially exposed themselves to COVID-19.

The NBA suspended its season on Wednesday after Utah Jazz C Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Major League Baseball halted all activities on Thursday along with the NHL. But NASCAR and IndyCar held out at the time and simply banned fans from their events in the hope that those measures would be enough of a precautionary step.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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