Gov. Tom Wolf: Pennsylvania not ready to make decision on NASCAR race at Pocono Raceway

Pocono Record (TNS)
Race cars spread across the track during a restart of a recent NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway. The status of NASCAR racing at Pocono in 2020 is uncertain.

Pocono Raceway is tentatively scheduled to hold NASCAR events on June 27 and 28.

Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday those plans are not solidified. Monroe County, where the track sits in Long Pond, remains in the red phase of Wolf's reopening strategy. Pocono Raceway is the only track in Pennsylvania to hold a NASCAR Cup event.

"We've actually had conversations with NASCAR and I told them Pennsylvania is not ready to make a decision yet," Wolf said in his Friday press briefing. "The area that they want to have this gathering is actually in the red phase right now, so I told them that Pennsylvania is not ready to make a decision."

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Monroe County has amassed a total of 1,242 cases and 70 deaths. The county is part of Wolf's Northeast Region, which the second-most impacted region in the state and still experiencing high infection rates.

On Friday, Wolf announced northeastern counties Carbon, Wayne and Susquehanna will be moved to the yellow phase of the reopening strategy on May 22.

Monroe County will need to reach a sufficient new-case rate in addition to several other metrics to reopen, according to the governor's website.

NASCAR resumes its season on Sunday at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina with an additional race on May 20 and will shift to Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina for races on May 24 and May 27.

The sport's sanctioning body revealed its latest schedule update Thursday, announcing dates through June 21, one week before NASCAR is scheduled to race at Pocono Raceway.

Pocono, a 2.5-mile triangular racetrack, was set to host the sport's inaugural doubleheader event in which its premier Cup Series would race on consecutive days, each preceded by a lower series event. The Gander RV & Outdoors Trucks Series was set to open the Saturday slate, and the Xfinity Series was scheduled to run on Sunday prior to the Cup event.

When reached for comment, Pocono Raceway officials referred to an April 30 response regarding media inquires.

"As of (April 30), Pocono Raceway's NASCAR & ARCA dates remain unchanged and are scheduled to occur from June 25-28," the response stated. "If a future decision is made by NASCAR or Pennsylvania state officials to change or update our events, we will share those details on our website and social media channels."

NASCAR completed four of its 36 scheduled races before the series was halted after a March 8 race at Phoenix Raceway. The sport's leaders have emphasized their desire to complete the season's remaining 32 races, though events at Sonoma Raceway in California, Chicagoland Speedway in Illinois, and one of two races at Richmond Raceway in Virginia have been canceled.

"As we prepare for our return to racing at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, the industry has been diligent in building the return-to-racing schedule," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer on Thursday. "We are eager to expand our schedule while continuing to work closely with the local governments in each of the areas we will visit. We thank the many government officials for their guidance, as we share the same goal in our return – the safety for our competitors and the communities in which we race."