NASCAR underway at Darlington for rare midweek Cup race

DARLINGTON, S.C. — The first Wednesday race in NASCAR’s Cup Series since 1984 has started after a rain delay of about 90 minutes.

Crew members push the car of driver Ryan Newman as they wear masks as required for safety measures due to the coronavirus pandemic before the Toyota 500 NASCAR Cup Series auto race Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The event is the second at Darlington Raceway in four days after racing was suspended March 13 because of the coronavirus pandemic. NASCAR successfully made its return Sunday by using a a strict health protocol and limiting those in attendance to only the most essential for conducting a race.

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The health screenings were held again before Wednesday’s race and every driver was cleared to participate. The race was again being run without spectators and only 16 people are permitted per entry.

Kevin Harvick won Sunday at Darlington for the 50th win of his career. NASCAR used an inversion system based on the results of Sunday night’s race to set the field and Harvick started 20th. Ryan Preece started from the pole.

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Fox Sports is again broadcasting the race primarily from a studio in Charlotte, North Carolina, with just one pit reporter at Darlington. For its prerace show, drivers have been using varying technology to make brief appearances while sitting alone in their motorhomes.

Drivers had to travel to the track alone, pass through a health screening and then isolate before the race. They are required to wear face masks and had a variety of styles ranging from ones with team logos, to disposable surgical masks and Denny Hamlin seemed to have one that depicted his actual smile.

NASCAR has an ambitious return plan of 20 races spanning its three national series between Sunday’s return and June 21. Spectators are not expected to be permitted to any of the events in this span.

Rain disrupted the schedule Tuesday night when the Xfinity Series was washed out. That race is now scheduled to be held Thursday afternoon.

The second stop at Darlington is scheduled to be a 300-mile race, 100 miles shorter than Sunday.

GSG
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