The start time for Sunday’s NASCAR race at Darlington Raceway marks the second of five consecutive night races for the Cup Series. The Southern 500 also marks the first of 10 NASCAR playoff races that will crown a 2020 champion. And yes, it is still NASCAR’s annual throwback race.
Amazingly, the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is back on track as originally constructed despite a two-month long hiatus amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That schedule continues tonight at 6 p.m. ET on the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval in Darlington, S.C.
Sunday night’s NASCAR race is actually the third at this track in 2020 even though it was originally scheduled as the lone Darlington race for the season. As part of its return to live racing in May, NASCAR scheduled a pair of races at Darlington due in part to the track’s close proximity to the Charlotte, N.C., area, where race teams are headquartered. It eliminated most of the travel logistics that were problematic during a pandemic.
This time, though, there are greater stakes attached to the Darlington race as 16 playoff drivers look to begin their postseason runs on high notes.
Below is all you need to know about the schedule for Sunday night’s NASCAR race at Darlington and beyond.
What time does the NASCAR race start today?
- Race: Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway
- Date: Sunday, Sept. 6
- Start time: 6 p.m. ET
The green flag for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington will wave shortly after 6 p.m. ET, assuming there are no rain delays as there have been so often since NASCAR returned to live racing in May.
This start time typically creates a unique challenge for drivers at Darlington. The late-summer South Carolina heat makes for a slick race track that evolves as the day turns into night and the conditions get cooler. Mid-race adjustments will be key for that reason.
Darlington Raceway obviously has lights, so a weather delay could push the race into the late hours of Sunday and early hours of Monday.
Sunday night’s race is is one of the longest time-wise of the Cup Series season. It is scheduled for 367 laps (501.3 miles) and needs to reach the halfway point to be considered official in the event of weather issues.
What channel is NASCAR on today?
NASCAR is back on schedule even after its two-month hiatus amid COVID-19, so Sunday’s race at Darlington will still be shown on NBCSN as originally scheduled.
Of the 20 NASCAR Cup Series races NBC was scheduled to broadcast in 2020, 12 were slated to be shown on NBCSN with the other eight on NBC’s flagship cable network. Five of the last six races of the season will be shown on NBC.
As for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover on NBCSN, the network has a channel finder feature for viewers to find the TV channel options in their areas.
As is the case for all the Cup Series races on NBC and NBCSN this season, Rick Allen will call Saturday night’s race at Darlington with the assistance of analysts Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte.
NASCAR live stream for Darlington race
Anybody who has a cable or satellite subscription can stream Sunday night’s NASCAR race at Darlington live via NBCSports.com or the NBC Sports app. 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 OTT TV streaming options that carry NBC and NBCSN — 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 remains committed to running 36 races this season, four of which were completed before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sports world.
Despite so many changes to the regular-season schedule, NASCAR is keeping its 10 playoff races in the fall intact and at their original tracks. Below is that playoff schedule.
|Date||Track||TV channel||Start time|
|Sun., Sept. 6||Darlington||NBCSN||6 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Sept. 12||Richmond||NBCSN||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Sat., Sept. 19||Bristol||NBCSN||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Sun, Sept. 27||Las Vegas||NBCSN||7 p.m. ET|
|Sun., Oct. 4||Talladega||NBC||2 p.m. ET|
|Sun., Oct. 11||Charlotte (ROVAL)||NBC||2:30 p.m. ET|
|Sun., Oct. 18||Kansas||NBC||2:30 p.m. ET|
|Sun., Oct. 25||Texas||NBCSN||3 p.m. ET|
|Sun. Nov. 1||Martinsville||NBC||2 p.m. ET|
|Sun. Nov. 8||Phoenix Raceway||NBC||3 p.m. ET|
As for the regular season, a previously unscheduled Darlington race ran on May 17 instead of the the Chicagoland race that was originally scheduled for June 21. Another Darlington race ran on May 20 instead of the postponed Richmond race that was originally scheduled for April 19. The Charlotte race on May 27 ran instead of the Sonoma race that was originally scheduled for June 14.
The Pocono doubleheader remained as previously scheduled for the final weekend of June, with the Cup Series racing on back-to-back days. Those races were presented on Fox (and FS1) rather than on NBC. Fox’s closed its coverage this season with the All-Star Race at Bristol on July 15.
Previously postponed races at Dover and Michigan became part of Saturday-Sunday doubleheaders at those respective tracks in August.
Because New York required people to quarantine for 14 days after traveling from one of the states impacted heavily by COVID-19 (including North Carolina), the Watkins Glen race on Aug. 16 was moved to the Daytona road course. According to The Athletic, NASCAR tried to get a quarantine waiver for its Watkins Glen races but was denied by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
The Aug. 16 race was the NASCAR Cup Series’ first on the road course at Daytona.