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'We have a commitment to our fans': NASCAR president wants full Cup schedule, including both Talladega races

Talladega teaser

Tight racing through the tri-oval during the 1000Bulbs.com 500 Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, at Talladega Superspeedway in Eastaboga, AL. (Bob Crisp/The Daily Home)

NASCAR president Steve Phelps says the full season's 36 Cup races will be run, including the GEICO 500 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

The Talladega race weekend was scheduled for April 24-26 but was postponed because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. NASCAR has postponed all of its events through May 3. That time period covers seven Cup races. For now, the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway is still scheduled for Oct. 4.

With other sports facing cancellations because of measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, NASCAR faces questions about whether it will run a shortened Cup schedule.

“For us, we have a commitment to our fans that we’re going to run all the races,’’ Phelps was quoted as saying in a transcript of a Tuesday teleconference with reporters. “We have a commitment to all our competitors that we run all the races. We have a commitment to the stakeholders broadly, that we’re going to run all the races.

“We are going to do everything in our power to get these races in. If there are other variables that happen that would suggest we can’t do that, we’ll look at those at that time.’’

Phelps said NASCAR will have to consider various options to get its schedule completed, including running midweek races and doubleheader weekends.

Also, the schedule has a break in late summer for the Olympics. The New Hampshire Motorspeedway race is scheduled for July 19, and there is no other race scheduled until the Michigan International Speedway race Aug. 9.

Phelps said that break may need to be eliminated.

“At this particular point, we would like to finish the season at Phoenix and keep the Playoffs portion (of the schedule) intact,’’ Phelps said. “With that said, it will require a lot of different opportunities for us to look at. We’re in the process of doing that.

“No specifics about midweek races. I’ve heard about doubleheaders, different things. At this particular point a lot of things on the table for us to look at, working with our race teams, working with our race tracks to make sure the things that we’re putting on the table are feasible for us to do.’’

Phelps said NASCAR will work with broadcast partners NBC and FOX to get all the races broadcast to as many people as possible. FOX was scheduled to televise the GEICO 500.

“There are discussions we’ve having with FOX about what things we can do, discussions with NBC, things that we can put through our own channels that satisfy fans,’’ Phelps said. “Our fans are obviously thirsty for this content. We want to provide it to them smartly and have interesting content as opposed to just re-purposing some of the content that’s already been done.

“More to come on that. We want to make sure we’re servicing the fans as best we can.’’

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.

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