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story.lead_photo.caption A dirt track car carrying the American flag makes its way around the track during "The Star-Spangled Banner" on July 8, 2016, at Texarkana 67 Speedway in Texarkana, Ark. Like most other sports around the country, which draw large crowds, the speedway was forced to delay its start of the season due to COVID-19. Owner Dennis Gardner is optimistic once the season begins, it will flow as usual. Staff file photo by Jerry Habraken

TEXARKANA, Ark. — Texarkana 67 Speedway has provided alternative entertainment on the racetrack for area modified car lovers for years.

Like most other sports around the country, which draw large crowds, the speedway was forced to delay its start of the season due to COVID-19.

Speedway owner Dennis Gardner is optimistic once the season begins, it will flow as usual.

"Well, the safety of our fans is our top priority," he said. "I'd love to be racing, but it is what it is. There's nothing that we can do at this time. We want everyone to be safe and we're going to follow the guidelines.

"All the drivers want to race but it's too big of a risk. We're not going to take any chances with anyone racing or anything. It's just too big of a risk at this time. As soon as we can open, we're going to run a Friday night and a Sunday afternoon to make up some of the races. We race under the IMCA and that's a point system. The drivers racing have to get at least 10 races in, but that's depending on how long this virus lasts."

Gardner has a plan in place for racing season, and he also understands the point of view from spectators at Texarkana 67 Speedway.

"We're a entertainment venue," Gardner said. "It's an opportunity for racing fans in the Texarkana area to come watch and see what's going on. We appreciate everyone that comes out. As soon as we can, we'll be right back racing again.

"Well, I'm not sure what type of situation we'll be in once this is over. We will take the proper steps to sanitize everything. We thought we were going to get a chance to race and we cleaned everything up thoroughly. We'll go back and do that again before we get ready to race.

Gardner and his drivers are prepared to get in the allotted number of races under IMCA guidelines.

"Our season normally ends in August," Gardner said. "We'll probably race through September now, due to the delays. We have to have a minimum of 10 races but you never know. We shouldn't have any problems getting those but there's other things that may come up. Rain and coronavirus are two, but you really never know. We're just going to take it one day at a time.

"First and foremost, we want the people in the Texarkana area to know we appreciate them supporting us in the past and hopefully in the future. We're going to do our very best to start as soon as we can."

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