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Dover to host NASCAR doubleheader in August

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Tens of thousands of fans attended the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway on Oct. 6, 2019, in Dover. | PHOTO COURTESY OF NASCAR/MATT SULLIVAN/GETTY

DOVER – NASCAR will return to Dover International Speedway for an unprecedented doubleheader in top-tier Cup Series races in August, officials announced Wednesday.

The Saturday and Sunday races on Aug. 22 and 23 are the result of the May 3 postponement of the Cup Series race at Dover, when the nation was still coming to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is believed to be the first time in NASCAR history that one track will host six points-paying events across one weekend of racing.

What’s undetermined, however, is whether any fans will be in attendance to see it.

According to the Wednesday announcement, the racetrack’s owner, Dover Motorsports, remains in consultation with local, state and federal health officials, as well as Gov. John Carney, on whether fans will be allowed in the stands with appropriate social distancing for the August events.

If fans aren’t able to attend the Monster Mile’s historic weekend, it could mean millions in lost admission revenue and economic impact for the state. Last year, Dover Motorsports reported that the races brought in about $4.9 million at the gate.

What was more important for the track owner was that the races were run at all, due to the lucrative TV broadcast rights. Last year those rights brought in $34.2 million and Dover Motorsports is scheduled for a 4% increase in broadcast rights fees this year.

New fan procedures would include distancing in grandstands and concession lines, enhanced cleaning in high-traffic areas, added hand sanitizer stations and infield access limited to race team and track personnel only.

“Six races, three days and one hungry Miles the Monster. We are certainly looking forward to a historic weekend here in Dover,” said Mike Tatoian, Dover International Speedway’s president and CEO, in a statement announcing the decision. “We appreciate the cooperation we’ve received from not only NASCAR and our network partners but also from state and community leaders in preparation for these events. As we continue to collaborate with all of the stakeholders, public safety remains our top priority. We will continue to monitor the situation and plan for best health practices for all involved as we get closer to our race weekend.”

A doubleheader race weekend was long believed to be the most likely scenario if Dover was to see two races this year. What’s sure is that this will be the last year that the state capital will have two Cup Series races, as Dover Motorsports announced last month that it was moving one of its 2021 races to its Nashville racetrack.

The “Drydene 311” NASCAR Cup Series race will run at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23, while the rescheduled race will run at 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, both on NBC Sports. Each day will have a 200-mile, second-tier Xfinity Series race as well.

Friday, Aug. 21, will see a NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race and an ARCA Menards Series East race, the former of which will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1.

By Jacob Owens

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