NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday morning and, as a result, will miss the GoBowling.com 325, the first-ever series race on the Daytona International Speedway road course. Kaz Grala will substitute for Dillon, making his Cup Series debut.
“This morning, Richard Childress Racing’s NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon tested positive for COVID-19,” a statement from RCR read. “In accordance with NASCAR’s safety protocol, Dillon is self-quarantining away from RCR’s facilities and will not be competing in this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race at the Daytona International Speedway road course. Austin’s wife Whitney and son Ace remain healthy and symptom-free. Kaz Grala will drive the #3 Chevrolet for RCR this weekend.
“RCR takes the safety of our employees, fellow competitors, fans, partners and outside vendors seriously. Based upon recommendations outlined by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], NASCAR and our health partners at Wake-Forest Baptist Health, RCR has enacted procedures and safety protocols designed to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread. These guidelines were developed in close consultation with a panel of medical experts with broad experience in infectious diseases, many of whom have been on the front line in treating COVID-19 patients across the country. We will continue to adhere to these guidelines in order to protect the health and safety of our employees and their families, and our business partners.”
Dillon was tested after experiencing mile symptoms.
Dillon already has claimed a playoff berth for 2020 by virtue of winning at Texas Motor Speedway. He is 17th in the driver points standings, 22 races into the 36-race season.
Dillon becomes the third Cup Series driver to test positive for the coronavirus. Jimmie Johnson missed the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month after a positive test. Part-time driver Brendan Gaughan also tested positive, but the timing of his diagnosis came during a time he was not scheduled to contest any races.
Grala has experience in NASCAR’s Xfinity and Truck series. His stats include four top-fives and seven top-10 finishes in 29 Xfinity Series races and five top-fives and 14 top-10 finishes in 32 Truck Series races.