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NASCAR at WGI canceled

Andrew Legare Elmira Star-Gazette
Pictured is Chase Elliott after winning Go Bowling At The Glen in 2019. Elliott has won two straight races at The Glen.

There will be no NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International this year because of quarantine requirements set by the state to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The Schuyler County road course's race weekend will instead move to the Daytona International Speedway road course in Florida. That change was part of a revamped August schedule announced Wednesday by NASCAR, which owns Watkins Glen, Daytona and several other racetracks.

"This is an unprecedented time in the history of our nation and Watkins Glen International,” WGI President Michael Printup said in a press release from the track. “The dynamic situation we are all confronting is impacting our daily lives and activities in unimaginable ways.

"While we are disappointed we will not experience NASCAR in New York this year, as we look broadly at the current pandemic in our country and around the world, we must focus first on everyone’s safety and well-being as NASCAR seeks the best way to continue delivering a remarkable on-track product week after week.”

A June 25 travel advisory requires people coming into New York from states with high coronavirus rates to quarantine for 14 days. The list, which has grown to 19 states, includes North Carolina, home of most NASCAR teams and drivers. Florida is also on the list. NASCAR's headquarters are in Daytona Beach.

The Go Bowling at The Glen had been scheduled for the weekend of Aug. 13 to 16 and was to also include a NASCAR XFINITY Series race and an ARCA Menards Series race.

Watkins Glen has hosted its Cup weekend each August every year since 1986. The track also hosted NASCAR's top series in 1957, 1964 and 1965.

Printup said in May he was hopeful the Cup Series would compete at his track this year despite challenges presented by the pandemic. That included the possibility of a race weekend with no spectators or limited crowds.

The New York Yankees and New York Mets each received exemptions to play their home games in New York. The abbreviated Major League Baseball regular season is set to start June 23. Multiple NASCAR media outlets reported Watkins Glen was unsuccessful in its bid to secure a similar exemption.

Chase Elliott has won the last two Cup races at Watkins Glen.

This year's cancellation means seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, 44, won't get a farewell race at the track, one of the few on the Cup Series schedule where he has not won. Johnson, who was cleared to return to racing Wednesday after missing last weekend's Brickyard 400 following a positive COVID-19 test, has announced this will be his final year in the Cup Series.

WGI has emerged as one of the more popular races on the NASCAR circuit. It was voted "Best NASCAR Track" in the USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice Awards in 2015, 2017 and 2018. While attendance figures have not been announced by NASCAR in recent years, the race at Watkins Glen annually drew around 95,000 fans when figures were released.

California's Sonoma Raceway, the other annual road course for the Cup Series, also had its 2020 race canceled after NASCAR revamped its schedule following more than two months without racing. Sonoma's race had been scheduled for June 14. Chicagoland Speedway, another NASCAR-owned track, had its scheduled June 21 Cup Series race canceled.

Watkins Glen has canceled or postponed most of its 2020 calendar because of concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. That includes its No. 2 spectator race, the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. That IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship weekend has been rescheduled twice, moving from June 25-28 to Oct. 1-4 before being shifted again to Sept. 3-6.

In May, the track postponed its SCCA Majors Super Tour weekend and the Finger Lakes Wine Festival to 2021. The SCCA event had been scheduled for June 19-21 and the Wine Festival was scheduled for July 10-12.

Ticket information

The track announced Wednesday that ticket-holders for WGI's NASCAR weekend will automatically receive a credit for the full amount of their purchase, plus an additional 20 percent of the total amount paid in their account within the next five to seven days. The credit can be applied to a future NASCAR race event in 2020 or 2021 at a NASCAR-owned track.

For additional options and information, visit www.theglen.com/assistance-NASCAR. If a refund is preferred, requests are due by Aug. 7.

Pictured is Chase Elliott leading at Go Bowling At The Glen in 2019. Elliott has won two straight races at The Glen.