Harvick victorious at Darlington as NASCAR goes back to work

NASCAR veteran Kevin Harvick celebrated the sport’s return to racing proper by winning the Real Heroes 400 with a dominant performance at the Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

Harvick’s victory was a landmark 50th of his career as he led home Alex Bowman by just 2.154s, having led a substantial 159 of the 293 laps. Kurt Busch completed the podium with Chase Elliot fourth ahead of Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Tyler Reddick. Erik Jones, John Hunter Nemechek and Matt Kenseth rounded off the top ten.

“The first thing I want to do is thank everybody from NASCAR, all the teams, the whole industry, for getting us back on the race track,” Harvick said afterwards, as quoted on NASCAR.com. “I think everybody in this garage is so excited to be here. I was up this morning at 6 a.m., pacing around my porch trying to decide when I was going to leave. I was excited to get back in the car. Today was just a well-executed day.”

Jimmie Johnson had been leading the race during the early stages but clipped the back of Chris Buescher on the final lap of Stage 1, sending his Chevrolet careering sideways into the wall end ending his chances.

“Gosh, what I would do to get that corner back to do it over again,” said Johnson afterward. “Coming to the end of the stage, I was just trying to make sure I got a good run off of Turn 2. I felt like I was going to be able to exit the corner side-by-side with him, things just went horribly wrong there.”

The Darlington race was the first since Phoenix Raceway on March 8 and also marked a welcome return to racing for Ryan Newman following his frightening crash at the end of the Daytona 500 when fighting it out for the race victory.

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