Area NASCAR drivers ready to race at Darlington

NASCAR driver Ryan Sieg talked with members of his race team at his shop in Sugar Hill

Mason Massey says it's been a strange season to make his debut racing in NASCAR's Xfinity Series. After a long layoff, however, he's ready for a return to the track.

"[NASCAR officials] explained to us all the guidelines with COVID-19, what we have to do," said Massey. "I don't care what we've got to do, I'm just ready to get back racing, man. I'll do anything."

The Douglasville native is eagerly awaiting the green flag in Tuesday night's Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway, where Massey drives the #99 Toyota. NASCAR is getting it's unprecedented restart underway with a Cup Series race on Sunday at Darlington, followed by a busy schedule of races at "The Lady in Black" and Chlarotte Motor Speedway.

The coronavirus has caused plenty of changes to race weekend. For starters, Massey's family will have to watch from home, since attendance at the track is strictly limited. Practice and qualifying are also not happening, which will present a challenge for the 23-year-old Massey, who has never turned a lap at Darlington.

"When they said no practice, no qualifying, I was like, 'this ought to be interesting,'" said Massey, who has put in plenty of hours on his simulator to gain experience. "We're professional racecar drivers, it's our job to be ready for anything, really, no matter what."

At his race shop in Buford, Ryan Sieg is relying on videos of past runs at Darlington to stay sharp. He is a seasoned Xfinity racer, and says Tuesday night's atmosphere will be different.

"Everything's going to be like an old town, desolate!" joked Sieg about how few people will be around the garage compared to a normal race weekend. "It's going to be odd to have nobody in the stands. Can't wait for the fans to get back."

For Massey, who has an Xfinity Series start at Las Vegas under his belt this year, there's plenty of excitement to be on the track as his sport gets back underway.

"I was actually telling one of my buddies, it's kind of awesome being a part of history," said Massey. "Unfortunately it's not the best cirumstances, but I'm just happy we're able to get going back racing."

Massey hopes to run 15-20 Xfinity Series races this year for B.J. McLeod Motorsports. He's recently competed in some dirt track racing to tune up his skills, including at Senoia Raceway. His father Mayes Massey is a promoter for that track.