GAS CITY, Ind. — The roaring engines and flying dirt pellets briefly brought Gas City I-69 Speedway back to life Sunday.

It wasn’t the same.

The grandstands were empty. Track organizers only allowed a few crew members per team to comply with Indiana’s social gatherings limit. Gabe Wilkins even brought a car with the freshly painted word “covid” next to his No. 19.

And despite being on centre stage with nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway still silent, everyone sensed something was missing. Seventy-five miles away, the Indianapolis 500 was devoid of a crowd, the singing of “Back Home Again in Indiana,”

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INDIANAPOLIS — The postponement of the Indianapolis 500 from Memorial Day weekend until late August because of the coronavirus pandemic has created a “void” for businesses near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that rely on spending by race fans and tourists, local officials said.

Connie Harris, executive director of the Greater Speedway Area Chamber of Commerce, said May is usually a busy month for restaurants and businesses in the Marion County town of Speedway, which sees its population jump from about 12,000 residents to more than 200,000 during race weekend.

But Chris Gahl, Visit Indy’s senior vice-president for marketing and communications,

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR had been planning sweeping changes for 2021 in hopes of finding new fans and adding some energy to a staid, stale schedule.

The coronavirus pandemic put those plans on hold and NASCAR is frantically trying to recover from a 10-week layoff.

So far, the stock car series is succeeding.

NASCAR came up with a health plan that allowed it to resume racing last Sunday at Darlington Raceway, the first of 20 events scheduled in seven Southern states through June 21. Although spectators are not permitted, making for eerie, empty venues, the racing itself has delivered.

Kevin

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DARLINGTON, S.C. — Chase Briscoe was grateful to bring a moment or two of happiness to wife Marissa in the worst week of their lives.

It was Tuesday, during a 12-week exam, that they learned that their expected child — they only learned Monday that it was a girl — had no fetal heartbeat.

Two days later, Briscoe won the Xfinity Series’ return to action when he held off Kyle Busch at Darlington Raceway.

“This has been the hardest week I’ve ever had to deal with and God is so good,” Briscoe said. “Even when I took the lead with

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DARLINGTON, S.C. — Denny Hamlin won NASCAR’s first Wednesday race since 1984 when rain stopped the event with 20 laps remaining at Darlington Raceway.

The Daytona 500 winner was out front but out of fresh tires and trying to hang on when he got unintended help from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch. The reigning Cup champion caused Chase Elliott to crash eight laps earlier to bring out the caution.

A furious Elliott waited for Busch on the apron of the track and flipped Busch the middle finger as he passed. As NASCAR cleaned the track, it started to rain

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DARLINGTON, S.C. — Noah Gragson couldn’t wait to get back to Xfinity Series racing at Darlington.

Instead, he and the rest of the competitors will have to wait until Thursday after heavy rain postponed the series’ first race since March, when the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports.

“After two months of waiting, what’s another couple of days?” Gragson said.

NASCAR officials called the race about two hours after the scheduled 6 p.m. start. The event is now set for Thursday at noon.

The track was dry and fast until the rains hit about 4 p.m. The storms increased and lessened

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Without a lap raced this Formula 1 season, the careers of several drivers have already been impacted.

Some are stepping up to bigger things, while Sebastian Vettel, a four-time world champion, could be gracing the paddock for a final time.

After the German decided not to renew his contract with Ferrari last week, the Italian outfit was quick to sign Carlos Sainz from McLaren on a two-year deal.

The Spaniard was the stand-out non-top-three driver last year, securing a first podium in Brazil and finishing sixth in the drivers’ standings. He has the best balance of talent, age, salary requirement,

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DARLINGTON, S.C. — This was a 400-mile drive unlike any other in modern day NASCAR.

The grandstands were completely empty. There wasn’t a single tailgate inside the track. Everyone wore face coverings — some with the team logos, others opting for plain disposable medical masks. It was nothing close to the corporate sponsorship, pomp and patriotic travelling circus that symbolizes NASCAR.

But when the engines fired at Darlington Raceway following a 10-week layoff during the coronavirus pandemic, it turned into a regular old race.

Kevin Harvick beat Alex Bowman to win NASCAR’s first race back, a spectacle closely watched to

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