Kevin Harvick won NASCAR’s reopening race at Darlington Speedway.

Kevin Harvick won Sunday’s Real Heroes 400 NASCAR Cup race at Darlington Raceway as America’s most popular stock car Series re-opened after a 71-day COVID-19 induced layoff.

The hard-driving Bakersfield, California native mastered the treacherous 1.5-mile speedway known to most as the “Lady in Black” before an empty speedway due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart/Haas Racing Ford Mustang GT led a dominant 159 laps, as the talented veteran out-dueled numerous challengers to notch his 50th NASCAR Cup Series victory.

The victorious NASCAR veteran emerged from his bright blue Busch No. 4 Mustang after doing some traditional “burnouts” to a strangely silent and fan-less speedway.

An elated, but philosophical Harvick standing on the historic speedway’s empty main straightaway looked at the empty seats and commented on his 50th NASCAR Cup victory,”I just want to thank everybody at NASCAR and all the teams for letting us do what we love to do. It’s a big honor to win 50 races...I have to thank all my team for building these great race cars. I didn’t think it would be all that much different if we won the race, but it’s dead silent here. I guess we’ll take bring the trophy home.”

Finishing 2.1 seconds behind Harvick was Alex Bowman, with Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top five.

Due to the newly adjusted NASCAR schedule, the NASCAR Cup Series scheduled a second race at Darlington on Wednesday evening before heading back to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the annual Memorial Day weekend 600-miler.

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