NASCAR to honor fallen veterans at Coca-Cola 600 race held without spectators

Nascar Cup Series The Real Heroes 400
DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - MAY 17: Drivers walk down the grid during the NASCAR Cup Series The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 17, 2020 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

(CNN) — NASCAR will honor the country’s fallen military veterans when the Coca-Cola 600 race is held without spectators Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.

NASCAR Cup Series drivers and on-track vehicles will carry the name of a fallen military member in honor of Memorial Day. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, the country’s highest ranking military officer, will serve as grand marshal of the race, NASCAR said.

The race will be broadcast on Fox at 6 p.m. and is the second Xfinity Series event to be held since the season was suspended March 13 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the organization worked with state and local health officials to stage the race safely.

“NASCAR was very thoughtful in their plan for protecting employees and drivers and pit crews and people working on the cars from Covid-19,” Cooper said Friday. “Obviously, no spectators will be there. And that is because we know that gatherings together — when people gather together — that the risk of infection is so much higher.”

Last week, Chase Briscoe narrowly passed Kyle Busch during a battle in the closing laps to win the race at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.

That race, also held without fans, honored health care workers. The names of health care workers battling the pandemic replaced driver’s names above their driver-side window, NASCAR said.

“As the coronavirus challenges our country in unprecedented ways, the frontline healthcare workers — the nurses, paramedics, emergency physicians and many others — continue to inspire us with their strength and bravery in caring for their fellow Americans,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR executive vice president. “These men and women are the real heroes and the NASCAR industry is incredibly proud to honor their selflessness and service.”

North Carolina health officials on Saturday reported more than 1,100 new positive Covid-19 cases, the highest one-day increase in the state so far. North Carolina entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan on Friday, which includes expanding restaurant capacity to 50% and reopening camps for children. Bars and gyms remain closed.

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