Fans allowed at NASCAR's race weekend in Dover from May 14-16, so why are ticket sales paused?

Martin Frank
Delaware News Journal

Dover International Speedway announced that fans will be allowed to attend its NASCAR race weekend from May 14-16 after the Division of Public Health approved its COVID-19 mitigation plan.

But the speedway might have already reached its ticket allotment for the Drydene 400 NASCAR Cup Series race held on Sunday, May 16.

That won't be known until a later date. 

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For now, Dover has announced that ticket sales for the featured Cup Series race on May 16 are being paused so that those who have already purchased seats can have their seats re-assigned for social-distancing purposes.

Justin Allgaier (7) wins the NASCAR Xfinity Series race in front of empty stands at Dover International Speedway Saturday.

Track officials added that everyone who already purchased seats will be accommodated under the new seating plan, but those fans are "urged to respond quickly" to track officials as to whether they still want their seats.

At that point, it will be determined if there will be more seats available to be sold.

Track officials would not release how many tickets have been sold, or what the capacity for the Cup Series race will be. They did say that fans can still purchase tickets for the events on Friday and Saturday – the General Tire 125 ARCA Menards Series East race and the NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash race, respectively.

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"Until we get through the re-seating process, we won’t know what our actual attendance will be with the types of responses we will get from our fans," a track spokesman said in an email. "We are just thankful we can host fans for 2021. We missed seeing them in 2020!"

Dover International Speedway has a seating capacity of about 54,000 fans. But under recent revisions imposed by the state of Delaware for COVID-19, outdoor venues with fire occupancy restrictions and with more than 100,000 square feet of public space must limit occupancy to 50% of stated fire capacity.

That would indicate a maximum crowd of up to 27,000. But the actual amount of fans could be lower because DPH must approve a plan that takes into account social distancing in the grandstands and concession lines, as well as mask wearing at all times.

The University of Delaware, for example, recently allowed 4,100 fans to its most recent home football game, about 23% of capacity.

The track announced that other fan procedures in place include the use of digital tickets for all grandstand seats, staggered grandstand entrance times, enhanced cleaning in high-traffic areas and added hand sanitizer stations.

Infield access will also be limited to race teams, track personnel and select media.

This will be the only race weekend held at Dover International Speedway this year. Last year, track officials announced that it is moving one of its race weekends to Nashville Superspeedway, a track built and owned by Dover Motorsports, Inc. 

Dover had hosted two race weekends for the previous 50 years. Last year, the two race weekends were condensed into one after the spring race was postponed due to COVID-19. Those weekend events were held without fans.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.