DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - Another weekend of racing has come and gone at Darlington Raceway, with the NASCAR Cup Series ending in a fashion fitting for The Track Too Tough To Tame.
Kevin Harvick took home the checkered flag in Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500, the first race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. It’s also his second win of the year at Darlington, the first coming in NASCAR’s restart in May.
The big difference between those races, however, was the inclusion of fans.
Through an exception granted the South Carolina Department of Commerce, a limited amount of spectators were allowed back into Darlington Raceway for Sunday’s race. This after an order from Gov. Henry McMaster allowing for large spectator events, provided they follow safety guidelines and apply for exceptions with the department.
It’s estimated that 8,000 people were in attendance for the event.
“It’s good to see fans here with the cars out there,” said Tony Baird, owner of Raceway Grill, a restaurant located near the track. “We can only do half occupancy inside the restaurant. We try to set stuff up outside so they can still be a part of it if you can’t get in. It’s about as close as you can get here without being inside the track.”
The raceway implemented several new measures based on state and federal health guidelines, such as temperature checks, socially distanced seating and requiring face coverings. All of which didn’t seem to bother those who came to check out the racing.
“Darlington has always been the best place for NASCAR racing in my opinion,” said Bill Bussey, one of the fans who attended. “I’m glad we got to be here. We always meet up with friends from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and we’re from Ohio.”
Gary Davis said this year’s Southern 500 was his first NASCAR race and was thankful that the weather held up in time for the green flag.
“It’s great to be back out with friends and family to take this race in,” he said.
NASCAR next heads to Richmond Raceway on Sept. 12 as part of the playoffs, which include stops at Bristol Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course.
The playoffs are scheduled to conclude at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 8.