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NASCAR Cup: Kevin Harvick wins at Darlington

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 17: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light YOURFACEHERE Ford, celebrates winning the NASCAR Cup Series The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 17, 2020 in Darlington, South Carolina. NASCAR resumes the season after the nationwide lockdown due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Kevin Harvick celebrated NASCAR’s return with a win Sunday at Darlington Raceway in The Real Heroes 400. The win was Harvick’s 50th-career NASCAR Cup Series victory and extended his streak of top-10 finishes in all five series races, so far, in 2020.

“I want to thank everybody from NASCAR and all the teams for letting us do what we do,” Harvick said. “I didn’t think it was gonna be that much different, and then, we won the race and it’s dead silent out here. We miss the fans; just gotta thank everybody from Busch Light, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Mobil 1, Jimmy John’s, everybody from Ford who helps on this car. It’s a pretty big honor to win 50 races in this deal, and I just have to thank all my team guys and everybody for what they’re doing. This Dr. Josh Hughes (the medical professional honored on Harvick’s car) is one of my really good friends. I spend a lot of time with him and have seen how this whole pandemic has affected our frontline workers in person on a weekly basis, so thank you, Josh. We’re thinking of you. I want to say hi to (wife) DeLana and my kids at home. I guess we’ll bring home the trophy.”

Alex Bowman finished second, Kurt Busch was third, Chase Elliott fourth, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five. While two Hendrick Motorsports drivers, Bowman and Elliott, scored top-five finishes, their two teammates, Jimmie Johnson and William Byron struggled while running up front. Johnson was leading the race and looked to be on his way to a stage win when he wrecked on the final lap of the opening 90-lap stage. 

“Gosh, what I would do to get that corner back to do it over again,” Johnson said. “Coming to the end of the stage, I was just trying to make sure I got a good run off of turn two. I felt like I was going to be able to exit the corner side-by-side with him (Byron); things just went horribly wrong, there. What a great car. I feel terrible for my team and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. I’m very thankful for Ally and all of their support. We have great race cars, and things are coming in the right direction, just unfortunate that things didn’t really turn out, there, off of turn two.”

Byron inherited the lead and took the stage win, but 20 laps later, he hit the wall as the result of a loose wheel.

Harvick led 159 of the 293 laps that made up the race. But despite leading over half the race, he failed to win a stage. Brad Keselowski won the second 95-lap stage, but by the end of the race was in the 13th position.

Harvick took his race-winning lead by getting off pit road ahead of previous race leader Keselowski during a caution on lap 216.

After starting on the pole, Keselowski led the first 44 laps of the race before he was passed by Bowman. Through much of the second half of the first stage, the Hendrick trio of Bowman, Johnson and Byron held down the top-three positions of the running order with all three drivers leading laps. By the end of the stage, Hamlin had worked his way up to the second position.

Harvick got off pit road first between the two stages and led most of the second stage before trouble on pit road during a caution for Christopher Bell on lap 173. Keselowski got off pit road first, while Harvick was eighth out after a problematic stop. By the time the stage ended on lap 185, though, Harvick was up to fourth in the running order.

After his stage win, Keselowski continued to lead until Harvick took the spot on pit road.

Martin Truex Jr. finished sixth, Tyler Reddick was eighth, and Erik Jones was ninth. With Hamlin, Truex and Jones in the top-10 at the checkered flag, Kyle Busch was the lone Joe Gibbs Racing driver outside the top-10 and off the lead lap at the finish. After started in the back because of an inspection issue, Busch was inside the top-five inside the final 40 laps. But an unscheduled pit stop with 27 laps remaining resulted in a 26th-place finish.

Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-10 in his first Cup Series race since 2018 and his first race as driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Ryan Newman, in his first race since suffering a head injury in a last-lap Daytona 500 crash in February, finished 15th after spinning and bringing out the 10th and final caution of the race with 41 laps to go.

Below, is the complete finishing order of The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway:

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Posted by on May 18, 2020. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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