By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
NASCAR returned to racing on Sunday after more than 70 days away from competition. Kevin Harvick won The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.
This was a unique race, as there was no fans in attendance due to the global coronavirus pandemic. The infectious virus shut down the sport following the race at Phoenix Raceway on March 8th.
Also, there was very limited people into the facility. A select amount of crew members were also allowed in with a limited media presence at the facility.
Harvick won his first race of the 2020 season. This is his second career win at Darlington at the track that’s nicknamed “To Tough to Tame.”
In addition, Harvick now has 50 career wins at the Cup Series. He began his career in 2001 as he replaced Dale Earnhardt following his untimely death in the Daytona 500.
“The first thing I want to do is thank everybody from NASCAR, all the teams, the whole industry, for getting us back on the racetrack,” Harvick said. “I think everybody in this garage is so excited to be here. I was up this morning at 6:00 pacing around my porch trying to decide when I was going to leave. I was excited to get back in the car.
“[Sunday] was just a well-executed day. We were fortunate we had the first pit stall, kept our track position all day, were able to have a good Busch Light Ford, have good restarts, do everything we needed to do to keep our track position.”
With his 50th career win, Harvick is now tied with Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett. Johnson passed away in December.
Alex Bowman — who won two of the races on iRacing during the hiatus — finished second. Kurt Busch finished third.
Harvick was the only Ford in the Top 5. Bowman, Busch, and Chase Elliott driven a Chevrolet. Denny Hamlin was the fifth-place finisher in a Toyota.
The winner dominated the race with 159 laps led of the 293. Brad Keselowski also led 80 laps, while Bowman led 41.
Jimmie Johnson — before his crash — led nine laps and William Byron led three laps.
“The weirdest part of the day for me was getting out of the car and not hearing anybody cheering,” Harvick said. “When the engines are running, you’re kind of in your own little world in the car. Look, I’ve been around this deal for a long time. This is not like anything I’ve ever experienced. I can tell you it’s very similar to coming back after 9/11. That day had a hundred thousand fans in the stands, now you have no fans.
“The practice and in-the-car part are something we can figure out. The not having any fans in the infield, for me that took some of the enthusiasm of the win away just because of the fact you weren’t able to celebrate with the crowd. For me, that was really awkward because I feed off of that stuff, enjoy those types of moments. For me, didn’t really know what to say after the race because it’s such a unique situation that we’re in.”
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