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Kevin Harvick Wins NASCAR’s Return Event at Darlington, 50th-Career Win

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 17: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light YOURFACEHERE Ford, leads Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, during 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)

In a dominant performance, Kevin Harvick led 159-laps in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Sereis The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway. Harvick held off a hungry Alex Bowman late in the race, and pulled away to win by more than 2-seconds.

For Harvick, it was a big win, but he misses being able to share the moment with the fans.

“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.”

This marks Harvick’s first win of the 2020 season, which locks him into the NASCAR Playoffs, and it is also Harvick’s 50th-career win in NASCAR Cup Series competition. The California-native officially becomes the 14th-different driver in Cup Series history to reach 50 wins.

“It doesn’t seem real and I think as you look at Darlington I think as you look at the things that happened this weekend I really thought that it would definitely play into our hand just because our guys are so good at hitting the car off the truck for the most part,” Harvick explained. “We put a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of studying, a lot of meetings and just have to thank everybody at the shop who has built all these cars and just, man, I’m excited.”

Kurt Busch crossed the line behind Harvick and Bowman in third, followed by Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin.

Martin Truex Jr., Tyler Reddick, Erik Jones, John Hunter Nemechek and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-10 finishers in the race.

For Reddick and Nemechek, both who are Rookie of the Year contenders, their finishes are career-bests.

Kenseth’s finish was also impressive, as it came in his first NASCAR Cup Series start in about a year and a half.

Ryan Newman, who was running his first race since sustaining injuries in the season-opening Daytona 500, finished 15th after spinning out in the final Stage.

It was a wild and weird race on Sunday.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. crashed on lap one to get things kicked off. Then, Jimmie Johnson, who was leading on the final lap of Stage 1, crashed coming off of turn two, handing the Stage win to his Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron.

Byron suffered his own rough luck in Stage 2, as a loose wheel sent him into the wall, and out of contention for the win.

Brad Keselowski, who started from the pole, won Stage 2 but faded to a 13th-place finish in the race.

Ryan Preece finished 20th, which is relevant as that means he’ll be on the pole for the next NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway on Wednesday, May 20th. Ty Dillon, who finished 19th on Sunday, will start second in the next race.

Post-Race Stat Pack:

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