The Real Heroes 400 kickstarted the reopening of the NASCAR season and it went off without fans at Darlington Raceway but without a hitch as well. Fans finally got to see a live race where the cars and drivers were the real thing and not a simulation. It had been two long months since the postponement of the season but Kevin Harvick drove like he was in peak form, displaying none of the rust that was evident from some of the other drivers who needed to get their footing after their forced sabbatical.
Team Hendrick looked dominant in the early going as Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson and William Byron were 1-2-3 near the end of Stage 1 but Jimmie Johnson crashed after making contact with Chris Buescher and never saw the end of the first stage. At lap 222 Harvick moved to the front of the pack and held a lead he would never relinquish en route to his 50th career victory while Alex Bowman took second followed by Kurt Busch in third place.
“I just want to thank everybody from NASCAR and all the teams for letting us do what we do,” Harvick said after the race. “I didn’t think it was going to be that different, then we won and it’s dead silent out here. We miss the fans.”
NASCAR was meticulous in following health mandated protocols including the use of personal protective equipment, health screenings for all officials and race personnel before entering the raceway, maintaining social distancing, and limiting the number of crew members allowed in the pits throughout the event.
Future events will be held in conjunction with the recommendations and mandates set by local, state, and federal health official guidelines. “NASCAR and its teams are eager and excited to return to racing, and have great respect for the responsibility that comes with a return to competition,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president, and chief racing development officer. “NASCAR will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials, and all those in the local community. We thank local, state, and federal officials and medical experts, as well as everyone in the industry, for the unprecedented support in our return to racing, and we look forward to joining our passionate fans in watching cars return to the track.”
NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell talks to the media after Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway //t.co/SuLofpfz0e
— Jayski.com (@jayski) May 18, 2020
Upcoming NASCAR Events
Darlington Raceway will add another dose of rubber on the track on Tuesday night when the Toyota 200 gets underway. Bovada has made Kyle Busch the big favorite at odds of –125, followed by Chase Briscoe (+625), and Harrison Burton (+880) as the top three in a field of 39 drivers. Going forward we can expect the oddsmakers at all of the best online sportsbooks to be dealing odds on most, if not all, of the upcoming NASCAR events.
The following slate includes the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series, and the ARCA Menards Series through June 21st in which spectators will not be allowed in all of these events. NASCAR intends to run all 36 Cup Series races and complete its season, although the dates and venues will be realigned and altered throughout due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tue., May 19 Xfinity Series Darlington FS1 8 p.m. ET
Wed., May 20 Cup Series Darlington FS1 7:30 p.m. ET
Sun., May 24 Cup Series Charlotte FOX 6 p.m. ET
Mon., May 25 Xfinity Series Charlotte FS1 7:30 p.m. ET
Tue., May 26 Gander Trucks Charlotte FS1 8 p.m. ET
Wed., May 27 Cup Series Charlotte FS1 8 p.m. ET
Sat, May 30 Xfinity Bristol FS1 3:30 p.m.
Sun, May 31 Cup Bristol FS1 3:30 p.m.
Sat, June 6 Gander Trucks Atlanta FS1 1:00 p.m.
Sat, June 6 Xfinity Atlanta FOX 4:30 p.m.
Sun, June 7 Cup Atlanta FOX 3:00 p.m.
Wed, June 10 Cup Martinsville FS1 7:00 p.m.
Sat, June 13 Gander Trucks Miami FS1 12:30 p.m.
Sat, June 13 Xfinity Miami FOX 3:30 p.m.
Sun, June 14 Xfinity Miami FS1 12:00 p.m.
Sun, June 14 Cup Miami FOX 3:30 p.m.
Sat, June 20 ARCA Talladega FS1 2:00 p.m.
Sat, June 20 Xfinity Talladega FOX 5:30 p.m.
Sun, June 21 Cup Talladega FOX 3:00 p.m.
— Goodyear (@goodyear) May 17, 2020