Famed Darlington Raceway hosts NASCAR's post-coronavirus comeback event

Real Heroes 400 will mark NASCAR Cup Series' first event since March 8

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The venerable Darlington Raceway in South Carolina will play host to the first NASCAR event in two months on Sunday as the top-tier racing circuit looks to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.

Known by race fans as “The Lady in Black” and “The Track Too Tough to Tame,” Darlington Raceway will host three NASCAR events over a four-day span, beginning with the Real Heroes 400 on Sunday afternoon. NASCAR officials chose the track in part due to its proximity to team garages in North Carolina, allowing for minimal travel and limited pre-race interaction.

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“Darlington is one of the most iconic and historic tracks in the sport and will be a tremendous backdrop when NASCAR returns,” Darlington Raceway track president Kelly Tharp wrote in an open letter. “We certainly appreciate the support from our state leadership in working with NASCAR to allow us to host these events.”

While the race itself will take place without a crowd in the stands for safety reasons, the egg-shaped track will provide a familiar environment for racing fans watching at home. Darlington held two NASCAR events per year from 1950 through 2003.

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Since 2015, Darlington has played host to NASCAR’s “throwback weekend” and the Southern 500, a Labor Day event celebrating the circuit’s seven-decade history. Racing legend Jeff Gordon won that event six times during his career, more than any other driver. The 2020 edition is still scheduled to take place Sept. 6.

Each team crew will be limited to just 16 members at Darlington, including the driver and the team owner. All participants will submit to random health screenings, maintain social distancing and wear masks.

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Darlington Raceway is considered one of the more difficult tracks on the circuit, which could pose problems for drivers this weekend. As part of its coronavirus-related safety protocols, NASCAR won’t hold any practice runs or qualifying rounds prior to the race itself. Drivers who haven’t experienced a live race setting in two months may have to shake off some rust.

“It’s going to be wild,” NASCAR driver Aric Almirola told FOX Business Network earlier this week.

The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway will air Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

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