By Nick Lewis
Denny Hamlin won at a soggy Darlington Raceway as the NASCAR Cup Series returned to the track for the second time in three days.
Mother Nature threatened to cancel the Cup Series race when it rained early this afternoon and pushed back the revised starting time from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Toyota 500 was the first NASCAR Cup race to be raced on a Wednesday since 1984.
Sunday’s winner Kevin Harvick had a shot to win as he was battling with Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott for a shot to try and pass Hamlin with 20 to go.
Harvick, who ended up third, didn’t have the dominant car as he did on Sunday where he led a race-high 159 laps.
He had to slowly work his way through traffic after starting in the 20th position because NASCAR inverted the Top-20 finishers from Sunday’s race.
“The track conditions were just a lot different,” said Harvick.
“We made some adjustments going into the race. Just couldn’t get the front of the car to turn. Every time we tried to adjust the back, it would just take the back out.
“We never could get the front of the car to turn. Had to use a lot more throttle tonight. The things I could do with the car Sunday, I couldn’t do tonight.”
Harvick had to keep fighting in traffic all night and he kept getting unlucky with lane placement on the restarts. He said that they would lose three to four spots because he would have to start on the bottom of the racetrack when the high side is the preferred lane.
The end of the race was not without controversy however and Harvick had a front row seat to it.
On lap 202 when Harvick was racing behind Elliott and Busch along the frontstretch, Busch turned Elliott into the inside wall.
“Obviously I just made a mistake, misjudged the gap, sent him into the wall. That was entirely unintentional,” Busch said.
Harvick echoed Busch’s thoughts from his point of view saying, “He wanted to get back in line so quick. Kyle was on the bottom. He had a hole between myself and Chase. I’m sure he had one eye in the mirror, glanced forward. It looked to me like he completely misjudged and got the 9.”
Through six points-awarding events, Harvick is the only driver to place inside the Top-10 in each race and is the series’ points leader.
Harvick, the 2014 series champion, leads the competition with four total top-5 finishes in 2020.
The midweek race at Darlington isn’t the only midweek race we’ll see this season but there are questions on if it will be incorporated into future schedules.
Harvick, Busch and Hamlin were on-board with possibly seeing midweek races in the upcoming years. Busch said that the midweek races could be used to give teams a break in the schedule like the two week break they were supposed to get for the Olympics this year.
However, Busch said he would like a practice and qualifying session in the midweek show because time allows for it. Hamlin is excited for the opportunity for NASCAR to race during primetime on weeknights with no outside competition from other sports.
Harvick said he’d be willing to do midweek races as long as people are watching.
“As long as the TV ratings are good. That’s what drives our sport, the amount of people watching TV. If the TV ratings are good, it’s good for everybody,” Harvick said.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will run their Darlington make up race Thursday, May 21st at noon on FOX Sports 1.
The NASCAR Cup Series will race the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday May 24th at 6 p.m on FOX.