Kevin Harvick Wins at Darlington, NASCAR's 1st Race in Return from COVID-19

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2020

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - MAY 17: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light YOURFACEHERE Ford, walks pit road prior to the start of 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 Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

NASCAR is back. And Kevin Harvick welcomed its return with a win at The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday. 

Not only was it a special day for NASCAR fans, having racing back on their televisions, but it was also a milestone for Harvick, who became just the 14th driver in NASCAR history to win 50 races. 


That's 5️⃣0️⃣ for @KevinHarvick! Retweet to congratulate the driver of the No. 4 on his 50th NASCAR Cup Series victory! https://t.co/CPWKDRs022

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Kevin Harvick becomes the 14th driver to win 50 Cup Series races and the 3rd active driver, joining Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. Harvick, 44, is the 2nd-oldest driver at the time of his 50th Cup Series victory and the only driver to record a Top 10 in all 5 Cup races this year https://t.co/3P2K8UMh8k

"It's a pretty big honor to win 50 races in this deal," Harvick said after his victory. 


"I'm speechless."- @KevinHarvick talks with @ReganSmith and honors #TheRealHeroes after his Darlington win. https://t.co/0fJcjsv2d2

Harvick added that winning without any fans in attendance was a much different experience than his past 49 wins.

"Man, I'm excited," he said. "It is weird, just because there's nobody [in the stands]."

Jeff Kerr @JeffKerrCBS

Remember how exciting it was when Rusty Wallace earned his 50th win. What an accomplishment for Kevin Harvick. He may surpass 60 when it’s all said and done. #NASCAR

It was a dominant win for Harvick, who led for 123 laps, more than any other driver. Alex Bowman finished in second place, Kurt Busch took home third, and Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five. William Byron won the first stage, while Brad Keselowski took the second.

While Harvick celebrated Sunday, others lamented. The race was not without its crashes, as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jimmie Johnson saw their afternoons end early in disappointing fashion.


Well, that was not ideal. @StenhouseJr crashes early in #TheRealHeroes 400. https://t.co/sjJfazAZEU


Heartbreak for @JimmieJohnson! The 4️⃣8️⃣ crashes while leading in #TheRealHeroes 400! https://t.co/VCskH5nOlg


Take another look at what happened to @JimmieJohnson in the closing laps of Stage 1 at @TooToughToTame. https://t.co/rInpuJ35v8

It was particularly deflating for Johnson, who was leading at the time.


"What I would do to get that corner back to do it over again."- Jimmie Johnson after his Darlington crash https://t.co/S0TaXYdcXd

Jimmie Johnson @JimmieJohnson

😑 https://t.co/hoRsa28SZj

Byron also had some tough luck after his strong early start to the race.


Trouble for William Byron! Caution is out. https://t.co/XDVCPejOen

Overall, NASCAR will view Sunday's unprecedented event as a success. It was undoubtedly strange seeing a race take place without fans in attendance and crew members wearing masks, but after having eight previous events postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, those were necessary precautions and didn't hinder the race in the slightest. 

Racing fans better buckle up, because the action will be coming to their living rooms again soon, with the Darlington Cup Series taking place Wednesday, May 20, the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday, May 24 and the Charlotte Cup Series Wednesday, May 27. 

That's four races in 11 days, for those keeping track at home. After a long hiatus, the next week-and-a-half will be full of Cup Series action.