Thursday, 03 Dec, 5.33 am Tribune News Service

NASCAR to run 2021 Daytona 500 with limited fans. Here's what we know.

Media Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images North America/TNS By Alex Andrejev, The Charlotte Observer

The Daytona 500 will run with limited fan in attendance, Daytona International Speedway announced Wednesday. The race to open the 2021 NASCAR season is scheduled for Feb. 14.

All other Daytona Speedweeks events - including the Busch Clash, Daytona 500 qualifying races and the lower-level series races that precede the Daytona 500 (Feb. 9-14) - will run with limited fan capacity as well due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

An exact capacity was not revealed. Tickets for Daytona Speedweeks events went on sale in mid-August. Daytona International Speedway seats more than 100,000 people in grandstands and thousands more in the infield.

The decision to host fans, the speedway said, fell "in accordance with enhanced safety protocols and procedures to provide a safe environment for guests, NASCAR competitors, employees and the local community."

"The Daytona 500 is one of the greatest spectacles in all of sports, and fans from all over the world converge in Daytona Beach to be a part of motorsports' biggest day," Daytona International Speedway president Chip Wile said in a statement. "While we won't be able to have a capacity crowd here in February, we are excited that we can host the Daytona 500 with those in attendance, as well as for the millions who will tune in live on FOX."

NASCAR president Steve Phelps told reporters in November that the sanctioning body was considering running the Daytona 500 with limited fans. The race has sold out for the last five years.

"Do I believe we're going to have fans in the stands? I do," Phelps said last month. "What percentage of fans in the stands? I'm not sure."

NASCAR raced half of its 32 Cup races during the pandemic with limited fans or guests in 2020. The NFL is scheduled to play Super Bowl 55 one week before the Daytona 500 in nearby Tampa, where Raymond James Stadium is set to host fans at 20% capacity (13,000 to 15,000 people allowed).

Daytona International Speedway said it will work to accommodate guests who have already purchased tickets to Daytona Speedweeks in 2021. Many fans will be reseated in new locations to ensure social distancing, with the reseating process expected to be complete by early January.

Guests attending the races will also be screened before entering the track and are required to wear face coverings and social distance. Information on ticket options and safety protocols can be found on Daytona International Speedway's website or by calling the track at 1-800-PITSHOP.

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