NASCAR Darlington Race Begins With 1st Round Crash

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The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway started without incident on Sunday as the NASCAR series returned to the track for the first time after a 10-week hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After only a few parade laps, Brad Keselowski led the 40-car peloton from his randomly assigned pole position to turn one under the green without the benefit of any practice or qualifying without incident, but Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun in the interior wall as he immediately entered the back, bringing out the yellow flag. Stenhouse’s car caught fire on the way to the garage, but he was not injured.

The race resumed on lap seven without incident, and Keselowski was still leading on lap 17.

A competition warning period has been scheduled for lap 30 which will freeze the race order to give teams more time in the pits to make adjustments to cars that have not spun a wheel on a track since March 8.

The race takes place without fans and with a reduced number of team, track and media personnel on the South Carolina track, where social distancing and health screening protocols are in place. Hootie and Blowfish singer Darius Rucker provided a prerecorded interpretation of the national anthem and 40 frontline health workers acted as grand marshals and gave the command “start your engines” via a group livestream.

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