DARLINGTON, N.C. – Even though it wasn’t officially the off-season, the NASCAR shutdown was almost as long as the off-season, and now it is time to get back to the business of racing.
As the NASCAR Cup Series rolls into Darlington on Sunday, we pick up where we left off with Kevin Harvick as the series points leader, Joey Logano had just picked up his second win of the season at Phoenix.
While we were away some things changed: Bubba Wallace lost his primary sponsor, Kyle Larson got suspended, lost sponsors and eventually lost his ride in the cup series. Ryan Newman healed up and is ready to race and Matt Kenseth has come out of retirement to fill the vacant seat of the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Even though getting back to racing is big news, probably the better news is the fact that Newman will be back behind the wheel of the No. 6 Ford. Newman makes his return at Darlington after a horrifying last-lap crash at the Daytona 500. Some thought that Newman might never race again, but he miraculously recovered and is excited to be racing again.
“I’m so excited and thankful to be healthy to get back into the race car. I am thankful for all the people and support that have prayed for me and given me a multitude of miracles. I cannot think of a better track to start back at than Darlington, my favorite track and one we feel confident in. I’m excited to get back behind the wheel of the Oscar Mayer Ford.”
Newman has 22 Cup Series starts with seven top-five and 13 top-10finishes at Darlington.
Kenseth also makes a return this weekend at Darlington. He last raced at Miami-Homestead in 2018. Kenseth replaces Kyle Larson, who was fired after using a racial slur during an iRacing event.
“This was an unexpected opportunity for sure. I can’t say racing was even on my radar,” Kenseth said. “After spending some time thinking about it and all the unique circumstances surrounding all of us right now, it just seemed the timing and the opportunity was perfect to come back.”
Darlington hasn’t been an outstanding track for Kenseth. In 25 races, he has a single win, three top-five and 12 top-ten finishes at the speedway.
As far as a favorite for Sunday’s race, it’s anybody’s guess. You must look at guys like Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones or Joey Logano. However, all drivers are coming into this race without any track time since March; no practice laps, no qualifying laps and limited time with their team, so in a sense this is like starting the 2020 season all over.
No matter how or what happens it is just good to know that on a Sunday afternoon we can relax, sit back and enjoy a race.
The Real Heroes 400 from Darlington can be seen right here on FOX4 starting at 2:30 p.m.