Sunday afternoon, Ryan Newman made his return to NASCAR after a long absence. He had crashed during the final lap of the season-opening Daytona 500 in February and was temporarily replaced by Ross Chastain. However, the COVID-19-caused pandemic provided Newman with extra time to recover, and he was able to suit back up as the season resumed.
The Rocketman showed that he was heading to the track on Sunday morning. He posted a video of his Ford Raptor leaving his home and created considerable excitement among racing fans. He truly was heading to the Lady in Black and was ready to compete for a victory in The Real Heroes 400. The fans were relieved that he was ultimately able to return to stock car racing but still had concerns about his future safety.
"Good luck today Ryan. So glad to see you back, you truly are proof miracles exist," one racing fan wrote on Sunday morning. Several others posted photos of them posing with the veteran driver as a way to show support. The excitement was palpable as the fans realized that they would be watching NASCAR and Newman return together at a historic track.
Newman once again got behind the wheel of the No. 6 Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing and joined his fellow drivers on the track. He was scheduled to start the race in the 21st spot following Thursday's lottery while Brad Keselowski and Alex Bowman took the top two spots. Newman was next to Kurt Busch and just behind both Corey LaJoie and Erik Jones.
Without any practice or qualifying laps due to the coronavirus, there were questions about who would secure the victory on Sunday afternoon. Newman has not won a Cup Series race at Darlington in his career, and he was facing off against drivers that had considerable experience on the course. For example, veteran Jimmie Johnson has three Cup Series wins at Darlington to his name while Denny Hamlin has two.
Despite lacking a history of wins at Darlington, many fans still expected Newman to compete for victory lane. He was within reach of victory during the Daytona 500, and he has been preparing for his return. Racing fans felt that it was time for Newman to announce that he is back with a win on Sunday afternoon.