MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA - OCTOBER 27: Martin Truex Jr, driver of the #19 Auto Owners Insurance Toyota, races during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 27, 2019 in Martinsville, Virginia.
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

NASCAR pushed back the return of live racing in Martinsville, Virginia, but still intends to run a full 36-race season.

On Friday afternoon, NASCAR pushed back its return to the asphalt from a coronavirus-induced hiatus. The 2020 circuit was originally aiming to return to the track on May 8-9 at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia.

Friday’s reveal was made in an official statement. NASCAR declared its ongoing intentions to run all 36 races and hinted that racing could still return next month without fans, but not at Martinsville. The Cup Series has run four of its races thus far, the most recent of which being the FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway back on March 8.

“NASCAR is postponing the scheduled events on May 8-9 at Martinsville Speedway,” the statement declares. “Our intention remains to run all 36 races, with a potential return to racing without fans in attendance in May at a date and location to be determined.

“The health and safety of our competitors, employees, fans, and the communities in which we run continues to be our top priority. We will continue to consult with health experts and local, state and federal officials as we assess future scheduling options.”

Scheduled in the slot was the Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500, the first of two premier Cup Series races at the track. The Xfinity 500, the penultimate race of the Cup season, currently still resides in its Nov. 1 date.

NASCAR has been forced to pause all forms of on-track racing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While not directly mentioned in the statement, NASCAR’s plan to return to racing at Martinsville was likely stifled by Virginia’s stay-at-home order. The Virginia state government additionally banned large gatherings until May 8.

Currently, the next scheduled points race is the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24. The race is the longest on the NASCAR calendar and has been traditionally run on Memorial Day Weekend since 1961.

In lieu of on-track racing, NASCAR Cup Series regulars have partaken in virtual races hosted on the iRacing simulation platform. This circuit, known as the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, will continue at a virtual recreation of Richmond Raceway on Sunday afternoon (1:00 p.m. ET, FS1).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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