Charlotte Motor Speedway complex repurposed for COVID-19 testing

Atrium Health
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Charlotte Motor Speedway has become the latest front in North Carolina’s battle against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Atrium Health announced it was opening a COVID-19 testing center at zMax Dragway, which is adjacent to the 1.5-mile oval that has played host to NASCAR races since 1960 and part of the CMS complex that is owned by Speedway Motorsports.

A release from Atrium Health says CMS “has become the first professional sports venue in the country to serve the community as a remote testing site” during the outbreak.

“At Charlotte Motor Speedway, we work for the fans, salute our military and serve our community,”  Charlotte Motor Speedway executive vice president and general manager Greg Walter said in the release. “During these unprecedented times, we want to support our neighbors and the region with what we can do to keep people healthy. Atrium Health has been a longtime partner of ours and we’re happy to work with them to provide a well-known, accessible and safe place to host this remote testing site for as long as there is a need.”

An Atrium Health spokesman said testing “would be dictated by patient volume,” and a physician referral is required for a test, which aren’t available on demand.

Here’s the release from Atrium Health:

For more than 60 years, Charlotte Motor Speedway has been a place for “firsts.” Today, in yet another first, the speedway has become the first professional sports venue in the country to serve the community as a remote testing site during the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In partnership with the speedway, Atrium Health has created a Coronavirus Testing Center at zMAX Dragway, part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway complex.

The remote testing site provides a convenient location for residents of northern Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties to have their tests performed when ordered by their physician. Atrium Health has several additional sites throughout the Charlotte region, each in locations designed to provide a secure, private environment for patients to be tested.

Testing for COVID-19 is conducted without patients having to get out of their cars, which reduces the possibility of infecting other patients and healthcare workers. Healthcare providers will make appointments and direct patients to designated testing centers where medical professionals will approach the patients at their cars. These tests involve obtaining swabbed samples, which are then tested at Atrium Health’s in-house lab, and patients are typically notified of the results in approximately 24 hours. Atrium Health can test approximately 1,000 samples each day and is one of the
only health systems in the nation to have this capability.

“Having these types of remote locations, away from a hospital or other care locations, yet convenient for people in need of testing, is essential to helping contain the spread of the coronavirus,” said Jim Hunter, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer, Atrium Health. “It’s important to note that patients still need to meet the established criteria for testing by a healthcare provider, which will keep other patients and healthcare workers safe, as well as protect our testing supplies. We deeply appreciate this partnership opportunity with Charlotte Motor Speedway to make a significant impact on the
health of our community.”

“At Charlotte Motor Speedway, we work for the fans, salute our military and serve our community,” said Greg Walter, Charlotte Motor Speedway executive vice president and general manager. “During these unprecedented times, we want to support our neighbors and the region with what we can do to keep people healthy. Atrium Health has been a longtime partner of ours and we’re happy to work with them to provide a well-known, accessible and safe place to host this remote
testing site for as long as there is a need.”

Atrium Health continues to work to keep the communities it serves safe and informed. The latest information including prevention tips, frequently asked questions and care options are found at http://www.AtriumHealth.org/Coronavirus.

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”