For just the second time in a couple months, those seeking the start time for a NASCAR race are doing so in order to catch real, live action rather than a virtual competition. The silver lining of the unfortunate circumstances that led to a pair of Darlington races in the span of four days is that NASCAR gets to experiment with a midweek Cup Series race.
Wednesday night's NASCAR race obviously is a track-date-start time combo that was not on the original 2020 schedule, but the same coronavirus pandemic-related issues that shut down live sports in March have led to a modified slate of races for May and June. That new schedule continues tonight at 6 p.m. ET in Darlington, S.C.
The start time for Wednesday night's Cup race at Darlington was moved up from 7:30 p.m. ET due to the threat of rain. The race will begin with sunlight at Darlington Raceway but will quickly evolve into a night race with cooler track temperatures. That should lead to an onus on adjustments during a race that will be tough enough on teams that again didn't receive the benefits of practice.
(UPDATE: The race start has been pushed back to 7:50 p.m. ET because of rain.)
Below is all you need to know about the schedule for Wednesday night's race at Darlington and beyond.
What time does the NASCAR race start today?
Race: NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway
Date: Wednesday, May 20
67:50 p.m. ET
Of the nine Cup Series races currently on NASCAR's modified 2020 schedule, Wednesday's Darlington race is the first of four night races. Both events at Charlotte Motor Speedway next week will end under the lights, as will the newly scheduled June 10 race at Martinsville.
The original 7:30 p.m. ET start time for a race at Darlington was relatively late, but the new start time of 6 p.m. ET is consistent with Darlington races in recent years. Wednesday night's race is only 311.4 miles as opposed to the 400-mile race Kevin Harvick won at the track Sunday. (UPDATE: Again, the race start has been delayed to 7:50 because of rain.)
What channel is NASCAR on today?
TV channel: FS1
Live stream: Fox Sports Go | fuboTV (7-day free trial)
FS1 will broadcast four of the nine NASCAR Cup Series races currently on the revised schedule. The other five Cup races were scheduled to broadcast live on Fox.
Sunday's Darlington race, which was the first for NASCAR since the coronavirus pandemic shut down live sports in March, reportedly drew 6.32 million viewers with its 3:30 p.m. ET start time on Fox. That was a 38 percent jump over the last Cup Series race, which ran March 8 at Phoenix Raceway.
Though Wednesday night's Darlington race doesn't get the advantage of broadcasting on Fox's cable network, the prime-time start time should lead to more strong TV ratings.
NASCAR live stream for Darlington race
Anybody who has a cable or satellite subscription can stream Sunday's Darlington race live via Fox Sports Go. This should be the preferred route for a viewer who has such a subscription but isn't able to get in front of his or her TV.
For those who don't have a cable or satellite subscription, there are five major OTT TV streaming options that carry FS1 — Sling, Hulu, YouTubeTV, fuboTV and AT&T Now. Of the five, Hulu, YouTubeTV and fuboTV offer free trial options.
Below are links to each.
NASCAR schedule 2020
NASCAR on May 14 released its revised Cup Series schedule for May and June of 2020. It remains committed to running 36 races, four of which were completed before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sports world. According to Fox Sports, NASCAR hopes to keep its 10 playoff races in the fall intact and at their original tracks.
Below is the schedule revision for the Cup Series:
Stage lengths (laps)
Sun., May 17
3:30 p.m. ET
Wed., May 20
6 p.m. ET
Sun., May 24
6 p.m. ET
Wed., May 27
8 p.m. ET
Sun, May 31
3:30 p.m. ET
Sun, June 7
3 p.m. ET
Wed, June 10
7 p.m. ET
Sun, June 14
3:30 p.m. ET
Sun, June 21
3 p.m. ET
To start, NASCAR is scheduling races within driving distance of the Charlotte area, where most race teams are headquartered. That eliminates most of the travel-related logistics issues associated with running multiple races in one week, which appears necessary for a full season of racing.
Because those tracks are hosting more races than originally scheduled, NASCAR had to take races away from Chicagoland, Richmond and Sonoma. Via NASCAR, below are the details of those changes:
— "Chicagoland’s NASCAR Cup Series race, originally set for June 21, has been reassigned to Darlington on May 17. The 1.5-mile Illinois track’s Xfinity Series race that was scheduled June 20 will be held May 19 at Darlington. Chicagoland was also set to host the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (June 19) and ARCA Menards Series (June 18); officials indicated that those races will be reassigned at a later date."
— "Richmond Raceway’s springtime Cup Series event on the initial schedule for April 19 has been moved to Darlington on May 20. A Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race that was to be run April 18 remains postponed, with officials saying details would come later for rescheduling. The .75-mile Virginia track’s Sept. 11-12 race weekend remains on the schedule."
— "Sonoma Raceway’s Cup Series date for June 14 has been moved to Charlotte on May 27. Officials for the road course said in a release that they had worked with NASCAR to find an alternate date on the schedule, but that a suitable replacement could not be reached, 'given the ongoing uncertainty around large events in California.'"
Below are the four NASCAR Cup Series races that are currently postponed (and their original dates on the schedule):
Texas (March 29)
Dover (May 3)
Kansas (May 31)
Michigan (June 7)