NASCAR is back after being suspended for more than 10 weeks amid the coronavirus outbreak, and giving the command to fire things up at the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday will reportedly be none other than Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
As grand marshal, Milley will give the virtual command ahead of the 61st running of NASCAR’s crown jewel race in a fitting Memorial Day tribute that will take place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., at 2 p.m. ET, according to Speedwaydigest.com.
The race will feature a qualifying session, unlike the previous two events at Darlington Raceway that set the field through random draws, and the entire event will take place all in one day.
The race can draw as many as 100,000 spectators, though numbers have dwindled in recent years. This will be the first time no one is there, due to the virus outbreak — aside from the tenants of a 52-unit condominium tower located outside the first turn.
“This is the most bittersweet of circumstances for our entire team at the speedway,” said Scott Cooper, the speedway’s vice president of communications.
“We work year-round to produce memorable experiences for our fans. The last thing we would ever want to is to run a race without spectators, but these are unusual times. But it is rewarding for our staff to know we’re at least playing a big role in bringing the races back to television.”
In addition to Milley, Marine Corps veteran Edward Schrank, who five times beat cancer caused by chemical exposure while serving overseas, will perform the national anthem via a recorded video.
Each car will carry the name of a fallen service member above its windshield, and the field will pull into the pits mid-race for a moment of remembrance.
Fox News’ Gary Gastelu and The Associated Press contributed to this report.