The winner of the Daytona 500 was ahead, but with new tires and trying to hang on when he got unintentional help from teammate Joe Gibbs Racing Kyle Busch. The defending Cup champion crushed Chase Elliott eight laps earlier to emphasize caution.
A furious Elliott waited for Busch on the runway apron and turned Busch’s middle finger over. As NASCAR cleaned up the track, it started to rain and the cars were called to drive under the red flag.
It was an already busy evening at “The Track Too Tough To Tame” as the pilots ran against the terrain and the weather. While the drivers were sitting in their cars waiting for NASCAR to unplug the plug, a handful of Elliott crew members were sitting on the pit wall with Busch.
One of the Busch crew sat on the wall with each other and NASCAR finally ordered everyone to come back over the wall. Eight minutes later, the race was called and Busch was greeted by Alan Gustafson, Elliott’s team leader and former Busch team leader when he drove for Hendrick Motorsports, for a conversation between two masked competitors.
Busch immediately corrected the error.
“There is no question that I made a mistake and misjudged the gap,” said Busch. “They are upset. They are crazy. I’m not just going to fix this and go get an ice cream tomorrow. “
I want to apologize again to Chase and his team. I made a mistake and I misjudged the gap. I really hate that it happened to these guys. I have too much respect for Chase and Alan to do it maliciously.
– Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) May 21, 2020
Meanwhile, a fox was galloping on the deserted track and Hamlin, wearing a mask that represented his real smile, was having a muted celebration in the rain.
He walked to the victory hall under a large black umbrella. It was a double for Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota. Hamlin has won three times at Darlington and has two wins this season.
The start of the second NASCAR race backwards during the coronavirus pandemic was brought forward an hour due to inclement weather, but was later delayed by almost 90 minutes as it rained most of the day.
When the action finally started, the 310-mile affair was lively from start to finish because the pilots were not sure if they were running halfway – the mark that a race becomes official – or the distance.
NASCAR returned to action on Sunday in Darlington after 10 weeks off using a strict health protocol and limiting those present to those most essential to driving a race.
Health tests were required to enter the track and each of the 40 cars was only allowed 16 members of the team.
Fox Sports again broadcast the race primarily from a studio in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a single reporter in Darlington. For its pre-race show, drivers used various technologies to make brief appearances while sitting alone in their motorhomes.
The drivers had to go alone on the track, pass a health check and isolate themselves before the race. They are required to wear face masks.
NASCAR has an ambitious return plan of 20 races covering its three national series between the return of Sunday and June 21. Spectators should not be allowed to participate in any of the events during this period.
Rain disrupted the program Tuesday evening when the Xfinity series was won. This race is now scheduled for Thursday afternoon.