Pocono Raceway will host its NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck series races as scheduled on June 27-28, the sanctioning body made official Thursday.
NASCAR will conduct the sport’s first doubleheader with the Cup Series competing in two separate races at the Tricky Triangle – a 325-mile event on Saturday, June 27 at 3:30 p.m. (Fox) and a 350-mile race on June 28 at 4 p.m (FS1).
Preceding the Saturday Cup race is a 150-mile Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at 12:30 p.m. (FS1), while the Xfinity Series will race for 225 miles at 12:30 p.m. (FS1) prior to Sunday’s Cup race.
The ARCA Racing Series was scheduled to host a 200-mile race on Thursday, June 25. That event has shifted to Friday, June 26 at 6 p.m. (FS1).
The track announced May 29 fans will not be permitted to attend events due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Tom Wolf’s reopening strategy. Monroe County shifted to the yellow phase of Wolf’s reopening strategy on May 29.
"Race fans are Pocono Raceway’s lifeblood and family farmers are the lifeblood of our country," Ben May, Pocono Raceway president, said in a statement. "We will miss the fans’ passion, laughs, cheers and smiles as the green flag drops in the Pocono Mountains later this month. We encourage fans to enjoy the live race broadcasts on FOX and FS1, engage with Pocono Raceway’s social media platforms and share in our mutual appreciation for family farms across this nation."
Pocono Raceway has partnered with Pocono Organics, a regenerative organic farm located on track property, for Saturday’s Race for Family Farms program. The collaboration between the two as well as Farm Aid and Rodale Institute will raise resources through www.farmaid.com/pocono to benefit the local family farmers "who tirelessly worked across our country to keep food on our plates during the COVID-19 pandemic," the statement said.
Raceway CEO Nick Igdalsky said in a Wednesday press conference that ticket sales had been "astounding" heading into March.
"We absolutely loved what we were seeing," Igdalsky said. "We were seeing growth that we haven’t seen in 15 years. It’s safe to tell you we (saw) growth for both the Saturday and Sunday races well over 30%. We were trending to absolutely selling out the infield well in advance of the event – and we added 800 new spots in 2020."
The momentum came to an abrupt halt in March when the sport was shut down and logistics of any races, let alone those scheduled for Pocono Raceway came into question.
Now, these races will be held without fans. Last week, Pocono said in a statement that "current ticket holders can request a refund or account credit by visiting [their] website."
"It’s disappointing, obviously," Igdalsky said.
Igdalsky then alluded to – and hoped for – a potential do-over for 2021 for another doubleheader: "You never know. Maybe an announcement in a couple weeks will give us the opportunity to run it back next year."
The third-year CEO admitted holding the events without fans would be a financial burden but not an insurmountable one.
"It is a substantial hit for the raceway, bottomline and also the area visitors bureau," Igdalsky said. "We have an amusement tax here that gets applied to a lot of what they do, and obviously that’s not going to be collected this year with no fans being in attendance.
"Pocono Raceway, we’ve survived times harder than this financially for sure in our history. It’s no secret that (track founder and Igdalsky’s grandfather Dr. Joseph "Doc" Mattioli) was bankrupt several times trying to get this track up and running until really the late-’70s and ’80s when it took off. Tough times aren’t something we haven’t had to deal with before and we’re prepared to deal with them again."
Since NASCAR’s return on May 17 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, the Cup Series has raced five times. NASCAR has ruled that fans will not be permitted at its events until further notice and is limiting the amount of people at the track, including officials, crew members, track workers and media members.
The series is scheduled to compete at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Talladega Superspeedway this month ahead of the Pocono doubleheader.
Additionally, NASCAR unveiled its latest schedule update Thursday beginning with the confirmation of Pocono’s race dates. The Cup Series will race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 5; Kentucky Speedway on July 12; Charlotte Motor Speedway for the All-Star Race on July 15; Texas Motor Speedway on July 19; Kansas Speedway on July 23; and New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Aug. 2.