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Dirt tracks reverse course, cancel their weekend racing programs

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After a controversial decision by some to race last weekend despite the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), more dirt tracks are putting events on hiatus.

In a statement on its website, Williams Grove Speedway announced it won’t hold racing Friday based on recommendations of Gov. Tom Wolf. The track in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, held its traditional opening day March 13 with the tacit support of the governor and had planned to continue this weekend.

Wolf apparently has reversed course from Monday when he said he wouldn’t make tracks in his state cancel their races.

According to multiple reports, Lancaster Motor Speedway in Lancaster Country, South Carolina (about 35 miles from Charlotte, North Carolina), also has decided to cancel its Saturday program of racing.

The track in Lancaster, South Carolina, initially canceled its March 22 program Wednesday but then decided Thursday that the races would happen.

A Facebook post from the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office read, “There have been a lot of conversations this week concerning the race tomorrow night at Lancaster Motor Speedway. After those conversations, the officials at Lancaster Motor Speedway have made the decision to cancel tomorrow night’s race out of concern for their fans and the general public.”

There have been a lot of conversations this week concerning the race tomorrow night at Lancaster Motor Speedway. After…

Posted by Lancaster County Sheriff's Office SC on Friday, March 20, 2020

Here’s the statement from Williams Grove Speedway on canceling its March 20 program:

“Williams Grove Speedway will not be racing this Friday, March 20, based on the recommendations of the governor of Pennsylvania. The status of future races will be announced. Keep up to date on all speedway news and information by visiting the oval’s official website at http://www.williamsgrove.com.”

The dirt racing season has yet to open at some tracks around the country.

Eldora Speedway, perhaps the country’s most famous dirt track, tweeted a photo last week of snow blanketing its famous half-mile. The 2020 schedule on its website still shows as opening its 67th season April 18 with Dirt Late Models, Modifieds and Super Stocks.

“There will be early season events affected and postponed, but the situation changes so rapidly that it’s difficult to know how many or what dates are available for rescheduling,” Eldora Speedway general manager Roger Slack told NBCSports.com via text. “We have been following the guidance and recommendations of the State of Ohio and the federal government and urge all of our race fans and competitors to do so as well.”

Scott Dixon fastest on the second day of Indianapolis 500 practice

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Scott Dixon was fastest on the second day of Indy 500 practice Thursday, turning a lap at 226.102 mph in his No. 9 Dallara-Honda at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Takuma Sato was second, followed by Marco Andretti, Conor Daly and rookie Alex Palou.

The rest of the top 10 were: Colton Herta, Charlie Kimball, James Hinchcliffe, Fernando Alonso and James Davison.

THURSDAY PRACTICE: Click here for Day 2 speeds at Indianapolis

COMBINED SPEEDS: Click here for the overall speeds from the first two days

The session had one incident as Alonso crashed with just less than an hour left in the session. The Arrow McLaren SP driver was optimistic that the car could be repaired without a backup.

Among the other notables on the speed chart Thursday: Ryan Hunter-Reay (11th); Tony Kanaan (14th); Helio Castroneves (16th); Josef Newgarden (18th); Graham Rahal (19th); Will Power (23rd); Alexander Rossi (26th) and defending race winner Simon Pagenaud (27th).

Felix Rosenqvist (24th) and rookie Dalton Kellett turned the most laps (141) around the 2.5-mile oval.

Teams mostly focused on race setup Thursday as they will receive 80 extra horsepower in the “Fast Friday” practice that will feature speeds above 230 mph for qualifying Saturday and Sunday.

The Indy 500 will take place Aug. 23; coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on NBC with the green flag at 2:30 p.m.

HOW TO WATCH THE INDY 500 ON NBCDetails for the Aug. 23 race

DAILY INDY 500 SCHEDULEClick here for all on-track activity in August at Indy