Supercross will require COVID-19 testing to access final 7 races in Utah

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The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series shed some light on its protocols for the final seven races of the season, which will include COVID-19 testing for everyone on site.

During a Friday afternoon news conference conducted over Zoom with a few dozen media outlets, Dave Prater, the senior director of Two Wheel Operations at Feld Entertainment, said Supercross has been approved to have 900 people (which includes riders, teams, series officials, media and local venue workers) within the perimeter of its seven events at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.

All will sign a health and safety commitment, complete a questionnaire and undergo COVID-19 testing in Utah, including about 800 traveling from out of state for the seven events that will be held between May 31 and June 21. The state health department will conduct the drive-through testing in Salt Lake City with a turnaround time of 48 hours. Test results will be emailed, and a negative result will be required to enter the Rice-Eccles Stadium perimeter.

SEASON RESUMES: Supercross will run final seven races in Salt Lake City

If someone tests positive, they can be retested within 72 hours if they don’t have a temperature over 100.4 degrees. If the second test is negative, they’ll be admitted. Another positive test would mean a 14-day quarantine.

“If an athlete tests positive, it’ll be treated like a concussion or anything else,” Prater said. “They’ll sit out.”

The policy will set Supercross apart from NASCAR, which will return Sunday at Darlington Raceway, and IndyCar, which is back on track June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Those series, both of which also are planning to have roughly 900 on site, are planning health screenings for admittance to their races but not COVID-19 tests. NASCAR cited a lack of testing availability as a reason.

Prater said Supercross also didn’t want to detract from public testing and has been assured by Utah officials that it won’t.

“There were a few of states and venues we were speaking to that initially had told us we wouldn’t have to do the COVID-19 testing but as we got closer, it was 100%,” Prater said. “As PBR did an event a few weeks ago and UFC last weekend, I think it almost goes without saying that sporting events will require this for the near, foreseeable future.”

After securing a negative COVID-19 test result on arrival in Utah, Supercross riders and team members won’t need to be retested during the three-week stretch of seven races unless they leave the state. They will be permitted to stay at hotels, houses or in motorhomes while in Salt Lake City, and there won’t be constant monitoring or tracking of their movements.

“It’ll be tough as far as the cadence of the races to leave and come back,” Prater said. “As far as tracking athletes, they’ll sign a health and safety commitment, and we’ll take them at their word. If you leave the state and come back, obviously if it’s a flight, we’ll know. Other than that, we’ll take them at their word.”

Supercross also will require daily temperature checks prior to entering the event perimeter. Facemasks are required at all times on site, and social distancing will be employed.

Other notable items from Supercross’ hourlong news conference:

Money reduced: Because all seven races are being held without fans, which is Supercross’ main source of revenue, Prater said the points fund was reduced by an average of 22.5 percent per position and race purses for the last seven rounds were reduced 17.5 percent.

“For Feld Motorsports, that’s our main source of revenue is the fans,” Prater said. “We’re doing this as stewards of the sport and for the overall health of the Supercross world and industry. It’s going to be a challenge and has been a challenge, but it’s been a desire from Day 1 to get back to racing. We’d prefer we had fans, but given the current circumstances, we’ll do our best with what the situation presents and move forward.”

Seven track layouts: Prater said there will be a different track diagram for each race. “With a two-day gap between some of the races, it’s a tight turnaround,” he said. “You might not see as different a track as you would from Indy to Salt Lake. But it will be a different track. The lanes will be the same but with different obstacles.”

If for some reason the final seven races can’t be completed, Prater said the championship would be determined at whatever point is reached.

Other candidates: Supercross considered venues in four other states (Glendale, Arizona, had been reported as an option) before settling on Salt Lake City.

“It came down to the green light and who would give it to us first,” Prater said. “It helps to have longstanding relationships with the sports commission and governor. We worked our tails off to come up with a plan to keep everyone safe and the residents of Utah safe. That was it. That tipped the scale. Other states worked just as hard, it ended up Salt Lake was one to give us the green light first.”

Best practices: Though he declined to identify which leagues, Prater said Supercross had been sharing its plans with other professional sports and racing series.

“This whole environment has really pulled everyone together within the industry, not only motorcycling but the sports industry in general,” he said. “We’ve been in communication with multiple leagues, shared our plans and shared their thoughts and ideas.

“But we’re letting the health departments, the CDC and governor’s offices lead the way as far as the plans go. There’s some great insight from other leagues and vice versa. A lot of leagues are watching NASCAR this weekend and us the following weekend. We’ll share whatever we need and help wherever we can.”

Here are the dates and TV information for the final seven races of the 2020 season in Salt Lake City:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).

 

IndyCar: Tony Kanaan’s ‘Last Lap’ begins at Texas Motor Speedway

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The streak lives for Tony Kanaan. At least for one more race.

With Kanaan running only ovals during his farewell IndyCar season in 2020 – which has been dubbed the “Last Lap” – his record streak of 317 consecutive Indy-car starts was to end with the season opener March 15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Fate had other plans. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced the postponement of St. Pete (now the season finale in October) amid the shutdown of American sports.

IndyCar has made multiple changes to its 2020 schedule since then, and as a result, Kanaan is getting an opportunity to extend his “Ironman” streak.

The 2004 NTT IndyCar Series champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner is set for career start No. 318 on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway – driving the No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet alongside the team’s new full-season driver, Charlie Kimball, in the No. 4 Chevy.

“A lot of people ask me how I coped with the delay of the season,” Kanaan said Monday in an IndyCar Zoom news conference. “To be honest, I was mentally prepared already because my first real race was going to be the [Indy] 500. My mind was already set for May.

“I only really had to delay, what, a couple of weeks from what I was originally scheduled to do. For me, I think it wasn’t as hard as for the other guys that were already in St. Pete, ready to go.”

But while his mindset is locked in, Kanaan notes that he’s been out of a race car for eight months. In fact, as of Monday, he hadn’t sat in a car fitted with the new Aeroscreen cockpit protection system.

However, he is no stranger to the wild and woolly action at Texas. Ditto for his new-slash-old teammate, Kimball: The two competed together at Chip Ganassi Racing from 2014-17.

That experience is something A.J. Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt is grateful to have on his side.

“Going into this race, it’s huge,” Foyt said. “Especially with the one-day show, everything is accelerated, and going to a big track like Texas, having a guy like Charlie sit on the pole there [in 2017], knows his way around there, and obviously TK is very good there, as well.

“It’s a little bit of peace of mind for sure. Anything can happen, but the engineering group has been working really well together. We’re really hopeful we’re going to unload and get these guys some good cars out of the box. That’s the plan.”

Speaking of Kimball, the Californian is set to revive his full-time career in the sport after making just seven starts last season with Carlin.

He’s enjoyed his unexpected free time at home with his wife, Kathleen, and their two children, Hannah and newborn son Gordon, who arrived in March. But he’s grateful to get back in the car – and to accompany Tony on his ‘last lap.’

“We’re friends off the track,” Charlie said. “We train together. He’s gotten me addicted to riding a bicycle on a computer game, but also our wives are friends, and I think our families when we can get together and the kids can play, I think they’re going to interact really well. I’m excited for his daughter Nina to spend some time with our daughter.

“And the experience – I mean, he’s taught me things and I’ve learned a lot from him about how to restart on ovals and what you can and what you should and shouldn’t do and what he still does. That experience is invaluable to me to continue to learn and get better. I just feel really honored to be his teammate during his last lap, especially when we get back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500.”

The NTT IndyCar Series season begins Saturday night from Texas Motor Speedway with the Genesys 300 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. The race will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.