Harvick Wins at Darlington as NASCAR Returns from Shutdown

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Kevin Harvick won the Real Heroes 400 from Darlington Raceway on Sunday afternoon in NASCAR’s return to racing.

NASCAR returned to the track for the first time after a 71-day shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  The race was run without fans in attendance, and there were no practice or qualifying sessions leading up to the race.

Harvick had a dominant car throughout the race, and led 159 laps.

Harvick said his team’s ability to unload with a fast car helped them succeed under Sunday’s unusual circumstances.

“I think as you look at Darlington and as you look at the things that happened this weekend, we really thought it was going to play into our hand,” Harvick said.  “Our guys are so good at hitting the car off the truck.”

The victory was Harvick’s 50th in the Cup Series, which tied him with NASCAR Hall of Famers Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett.

Harvick said it was odd to pick up such a big victory without fans in attendance.

“It’s a pretty big honor to win 50 races in this deal,” Harvick said.  “It is weird, just because there’s nobody up there.  I didn’t think it was going to be that much different, and then we won the race and it’s dead-silent out here.  We miss the fans.”

Alex Bowman finished second, and was one of four strong Hendrick Motorsports drivers that challenged up front all race long.

Bowman said second was a good way to restart the season.

“Sucks to finish second, but it’s really good to restart the season this way with a strong car off the truck,” Bowman said.  “It was a lot of fun to get to race a guy like Kevin at a place like Darlington.  Thought if I could get him there on the restart we’d have had a shot at it, but just came up a little bit short.”

NASCAR will return to Darlington on Wednesday night for the Toyota 500.  As with Sunday’s event, there will not be qualifying or practice for the race.  Instead, the field will line up based on the results of Sunday’s race, with the Top 20 finishers inverted.

Unofficial results:

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Alex Bowman
  3. Kurt Busch
  4. Chase Elliott
  5. Denny Hamlin
  6. Martin Truex Jr.
  7. Tyler Reddick
  8. Erik Jones
  9. John Hunter Nemechek
  10. Matt Kenseth
  11. Austin Dillon
  12. Aric Almirola
  13. Brad Keselowski
  14. Matt DiBenedetto
  15. Ryan Newman
  16. Ryan Blaney
  17. Clint Bowyer
  18. Joey Logano
  19. Ty Dillon
  20. Ryan Preece
  21. Bubba Wallace
  22. Cole Custer
  23. Michael McDowell
  24. Christopher Bell
  25. Daniel Suarez
  26. Kyle Busch
  27. Brennan Poole
  28. JJ Yeley
  29. Reed Sorenson
  30. Joey Gase
  31. Corey LaJoie
  32. Chris Buescher
  33. Timmy Hill
  34. Josh Bilicki
  35. William Byron
  36. Quin Houff
  37. Garrett Smithley
  38. Jimmie Johnson
  39. BJ McLeod
  40. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.