Harvick Claims Victory in NASCAR's Return at Darlington
Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag in The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway, marking the historic return of NASCAR after the 2020 schedule was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ryan Newman made his return to racing after a last-lap crash in the Daytona 500. Joining him in a return to racing was Matt Kenseth, who retired in 2018.
In order to limit the race to a one-day show, NASCAR opted to race without practice or qualifying before waving the green flag after an 8 week break from competition. Starting position was decided based on the point standings after Phoenix and a random drawing. Brad Keselowski started on the pole and was joined by Alex Bowman on the front row.
Bowman was the favorite throughout the race and lead early before Harvick took the lead in Stage 3. After a caution, Harvick took to the pits and went from fourth to first after getting four fresh tires. He took the lead and never looked back, as Bowman and Kurt Busch trailed behind him.
The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford led a 159 of the 293-lap event at Darlington Raceway. Harvick's victory marks his 50th NASCAR Cup Series win, tying Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett on the all-time wins list.
Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five. Matt Kenseth, who made his return to racing after retiring in 2018, finished 10th in the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing. Ryan Newman, who made his return to racing after a last-lap crash in the Daytona 500, finished 15th in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
The NASCAR Cup Series will be back in action on Wednesday, May 20 at Darlington Raceway for the Toyota 500 at 7:30 P.M. on FS1.
Matt Kenseth is coming out of retirement to drive the No. 42 for Chip Ganassi Racing for the remainder of the 2020 season, CGR confirmed on Monday.
“I have always said that when we have to fill a driver spot, that I owe it to our team, our partners and our fans to put the best available driver in the car. We are doing exactly that with Matt,” Chip Ganassi said in a statement issued on Monday.
Kenseth said in statement: “This was an unexpected opportunity for sure. I can’t say racing was even on my radar two weeks ago. 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.”
Kenseth (48) last competed in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2018, running a part-time schedule for Roush Fenway Racing.
The 2003 Cup series champion has compiled 39 career series wins throughout his career, including two wins in the Daytona 500. His last win came at Phoenix Raceway in 2017 driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Kenseth replaces Kyle Larson, who was suspended by NASCAR and fired by the team on April 14th for using a racial slur during an iRacing event.
NASCAR is looking to return on May 17th at Darlington Raceway, per sources. Kenseth would have to obtain a waiver from NASCAR to be eligible for the playoffs since he hasn’t competed this season.
NXS: Brandon Jones wins Xfinity Series race at Phoenix
Brandon Jones won Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Phoenix Raceway. Jones passed his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch with 20 laps to go and was able to hold off the NASCAR Cup Series champion to win for the second time in his career. His other win came at Kansas Speedway last October.
For Toyota, this was their 500th win in NASCAR.
Kyle Busch, who started from the pole on Saturday, was chasing his 12th career Xfinity Series win at Phoenix. Busch led a race-high 78 laps, but was passed by Jones in the final 20 laps.
Last week’s winner at Fontana, Harrison Burton, also passed Busch and finished runner-up to Brandon Jones on Saturday.
Rounding out the top five were Brad Keselowski in fourth and Justin Haley in fifth.
Rounding out the top ten were Chase Briscoe in sixth, Noah Gragson in seventh, Austin Cindric in eighth, Ross Chastain in ninth and Riley Herbst in tenth.
Following the conclusion of Saturday’s race, Dillion Bassett and Brandon Brown and their crew chiefs got into an altercation on pit road. Bassett reached into Brown’s car while he was parked on pit road after the race. The two drivers had previously made contact on Lap 137.
Both met with NASCAR after the race.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will head to Atlanta Motor Speedway, Saturday March 14th in the running of the EchoPark 250 with coverage beginning at 4 p.m. ET on FS1.
Stage 1 Winner: Justin Allgaier
Stage 2 Winner: Noah Gragson
Race Winner: Brandon Jones
Chase Briscoe won Sunday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race was postponed after Lap 51 on Saturday due to rain and rescheduled for Sunday one hour following the NASCAR Cup Series race.
Briscoe led 89 laps in route to his victory on Sunday.
“That was really a team win,” Briscoe told FS1 post-race. “We were really good, then as soon as the sun went down when we were in the dirty air, we just weren’t really good. In clean air obviously there at the end we were really good. This is something I feel we can do all year long.”
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver beat out second place Austin Cindric by nearly three seconds to claim his third career NASCAR Xfinity Series win.
Rounding out the top five were Austin Cindric in second, Ryan Sieg in third, Noah Gragson in fourth and Harrison Burton in fifth.
Rounding out the top ten were Brandon Jones in sixth, Michael Annett in seventh, Justin Allgaier in eighth, Riley Herbst in ninth and Ross Chastain in tenth. Chastain, who ran in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race filling in for Ryan Newman had to go directly from Newman’s car to his full-time Xfinity Series ride.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will head into Auto Club Speedway in the running of the Production Alliance Group 300 on Feb. 29 at 4 p.m. ET on FS1.
Stage 1 Winner: Chase Briscoe
Stage 2 Winner: Justin Allgaier
Race Winner: Chase Briscoe
NXS: Noah Gragson wins Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona
Noah Gragson won Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series opening race at Daytona, winning in a three-lap shootout that would end under caution.
For Gragson, this marks his first ever NASCAR Xfinity Series victory in his 37th career start.
“I’m so thankful for the opportunity,” Gragson told FS1 post-race. “Man I’m speechless right now, I didn’t think this would come. I spent a lot of time with Dale Jr. this week talking for about two hours. Wanted to be a better speedway racer. He told me ‘go have fun, wreckers or checkers, you got to manage your gaps, be there at the end and just lead the damn thing.’ That’s what we did.”
For Jr Motorsports, this is their third straight win in the February race at Daytona.
Driver No. 9 had to rebound from a speeding penalty on Lap 32. This was the fifth time in the last seven races that the winner rebounded from a penalty during the race.
Gragson led 15 laps of the race and beat out Harrison Burton, Timmy Hill, Brandon Jones and Chase Briscoe rounding out the top five.
Harrison Burton earned his best finish (second) in his 10 Xfinity Series starts and his second top five place finish.
The race would end under caution due to a massive wreck on the back straightaway on the final lap.
The late-race restart was set up by a wreck on a restart with seven laps to go.
The wreck collected Jeb Burton, Austin Cindric, Ryan Sieg, Brett Moffitt and others. It started when Briscoe, who took the lead moved up to block Gragson as the field entered Turn 3. Harrison Burton, running behind Gragson had to check up and was turned by Cindric. Burton collected Jones before turning back into the wall.
The wreck would result in a red flag that would last nearly eight minutes.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Feb. 22 in the running of the Boyd Gaming 300. Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on Fox Sports 1.
Stage 1 Winner: Jeb Burton
Stage 2 Winner: Justin Allgaier
Race Winner: Noah Gragson