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In-Depth Conversation with Steve Phelps Looks at NASCAR’s Return at Darlington on May 17 and NASCAR’s Outlook Moving Forward

“A real opportunity… I think we’ll have a potential (number of) lifetime fans that will come out of this really difficult situation that we’re experiencing.” – Phelps on NASCAR’s return to racing

STAMFORD, Conn. – May 6, 2020 – NASCAR president Steve Phelps joins NBC Sports’ Dale Earnhardt Jr. on The Dale Jr. Download today at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Phelps and Earnhardt Jr. discuss a number of topics, including NASCAR’s return to racing at Darlington Raceway on May 17; the decision-making processes that went into the planning for NASCAR’s return; the opportunity to seize new fans as one of the first sports to return; the success of iRacing; and the potential for mid-week races and doubleheader weekends.

Following are excerpts from today’s episode of The Dale Jr. Download:

Phelps on NASCAR’s opportunity to draw new fans: “We think (resumption of racing) is going to be a really good test for us and a real opportunity for us to not just have our core fans consume the sport like they never have because we haven’t been racing for so long, but also an opportunity for other people to see our sport…I think we’re going to have millions of fans that will tune in who otherwise wouldn’t that are going to see how great our sport is. I think we’ll have a potential (number of) lifetime fans that will come out of this really difficult situation that we’re experiencing.”

Phelps on announcing May schedule at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway: “We know we’re good in the state of South Carolina. We know we’re good in the state of North Carolina. That’s kind of where we stopped just to put a flag in the ground and say, ‘Hey we’re going to move forward with these four races.’”

Phelps on importance of return to racing: “The most important thing for us was to make sure that we got all of the races in…we would love to be racing in front of fans, but we can’t do that right now. We think it’s more important to get the races in, particularly right now because we don’t have a lot of competition out there in the sports world.”

Phelps on potential for mid-week races and doubleheaders in the future: “I think it’s pretty cool to look at a Wednesday race. I know it’s something that we’ve been looking to do for a while and test out. Now we have the opportunity to test it out and see how it’s going to go…can you load in quickly, load-in and load-out, with a slightly shorter race? I think the answer is yes…I think there will be a lot of learnings.”

Produced on-site at Dirty Mo Media Studios in Mooresville, N.C., The Dale Jr. Download on NBCSN takes viewers couch-side for the taping of the motorsports icon’s weekly podcast, featuring unparalleled perspective, candid commentary, and insight that fans have come to expect from Dale Jr.