NASCAR was postponed for 10 weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the de facto cancellation of eight races. Stock car racing returned on Sunday, however, with The Real Heroes 400. Fans tuned in at 3:30 p.m. ET and were overjoyed to see the green flag waving to kick off the action.
The drivers took part in pace laps early to warm up their tires, and they headed up and down pit road. Once the green flag waved, they pushed the gas pedals to the floor and began fighting for position. Brad Keselowski started in the pole position and then led for more than 40 laps. He was followed closely by Alex Bowman and veteran Jimmie Johnson.
"Let’s go Ryan Newman!!! Tighten UP!!" one racing fan wrote in response to the green flag waving. Several others showcased their excitement for the moment. Although several others made a point to mention that the return only lasted a few precious seconds. A caution flag caused a brief stoppage in the racing.
The reason for the yellow flag is that driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wrecked before completing one lap. He collided with another driver coming out of one turn, sending him into a spin. Stenhouse Jr. violently slammed into the inside concrete wall and demolished the front of his No. 47 Chevrolet. He was able to drive to the pit row and did so while his car was on fire.
The blaze was extinguished, and the race continued. However, Stenhouse Jr. was no longer in contention. His day at Darlington Raceway ended after the collision and was only able to watch the remainder of the event. This led to several jokes from Twitter users about how "Wrecky" Stenhouse Jr. was in "mid-season form." Some fans fully expected him to leave the race early, but they didn't anticipate it happening during the first lap.
While the early collision and caution flag put a damper on the event for some racing fans, they did continue to find excitement in NASCAR's return. Watching Keselowski, Johnson and Bowman fight for the top spot brought them entertainment on Sunday afternoon, and they were fully prepared for even more events in the coming days. Although some fans hoped that the future races would feature fewer collisions and caution flags as the drivers adjusted to their return.