Sports Are Back: What To Know About Darlington Before NASCAR’s Return

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As sports slowly begin to return to television, those earliest to resume play will be getting unprecedented attention, but that doesn’t mean people will necessarily know anything about what they’re watching. And for those tuning in for the first time, NESN is here to inform and educate you with the league’s biggest storylines, athletes and how to tune in to its return or postponed start.

NASCAR will make its return to the actual, not virtual, track Sunday.

The Real Heroes 400 event at Darlington Raceway will be the first race since the ongoing coronavirus pandemic suspended the season back in mid-March.

NASCAR, perhaps unlike other sports, has been able to stayrelevant during the pause by taking initiatives to join the virtual sports world. As you may have heard, eNASCAR’s iRacing Pro Invitational series was a major hit and caught the attention of those both originally interested, along with others who may not have been if for other circumstances.

Nothing is like the real thing, however. And that’s what Sunday will officially bring, thankfully.

Where was NASCAR at before the shutdown?

As NASCAR fans certainly remember, the league was forced to suspended races dating back to Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway due to the pandemic.

The last three NASCAR races saw Joey Logano win the FanShield 500 in Phoenix, Alex Bowman win the Auto Club 400 on March 1 while Logano won the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Feb. 23.

Here’s the top 10 rundown of the 2020 Cup Series Standings:

  1. Kevin Harvick — 164 points
  2. Joey Logano — 163 points
  3. Chase Elliot — 144 points
  4. Alex Bowman 138 points
  5. Jimmie Johnson — 138 points
  6. Ryan Blaney — 123 points
  7. Aric Almirola — 121 points
  8. Kyle Larson (Suspended) — 121 points
  9. Matt DiBenedetto — 118 points
  10. Brad Keselowski — 118 points

More NASCAR: Ryan Newman Says ‘Everything Aligned’ To Save His Life At Daytona 500

Here are some interesting storylines heading into Sunday:

— Ryan Newman will return behind the wheel after a near-death experience left him in serious condition during the Daytona 500 in mid-February. Newman crashed on the final lap.

The 42-year-old Neman called it a “miracle” that he was even alive, making his return just a few months later all the more impressive. He said he was both “excited” and “thankful” ahead of Sunday’s event. You can check out his paint job here, too.

— Matt Kenseth will replace former Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kyle Larson in the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro Sunday.

Larson, as you may recall, was fired by CGR and indefinitely suspended by NASCAR for using a derogatory slur during an iRacing event.

The 49-year-old Kenseth last competed in 2018 when he drove a partial schedule for Roush Fenway Racing. His last full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season was 2017 for Joe Gibbs Racing.

— Will Joey Logano be able to pick up where he left off prior to the season being suspended?

The 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion and the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford was on an early-season tear to start the 2020 campaign. Logano won two races already in 2020, including a win in NASCAR’s most recent event — the Fan Shield 500 in early March.

How to tune in:

Location: Darlington Raceway, Darlington, S.C.

When: Sunday, May 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV: FOX

Live Stream: Fox Sports GO or fuboTV

More NASCAR: Here’s How Roush Fenway Plans To Honor Healthcare Workers At Darlington

Thumbnail photo via Mike Dinovo/USA TODAY Sports Images

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