Alright, boys and girls, whose ready to go back racing? This guy is for sure, NASCAR is paying tribute to the frontline heroes during the COVID19 pandemic dubbing this race The Real Heroes 400, each driver has chosen a medical professional and their name has been placed above each driver’s door, a nice tribute. Here are five things to look out for prior to Sunday’s race.
1. The Unknown
Number one out of five. These drivers haven’t seen the light from inside their race cars in ten weeks, and with no practice or qualifying, what will it be like as they go off into turn one on Lap 1? Will there be chaos or order? Bear in mind, NASCAR has discussed a competition caution to be thrown at Lap 30 to check tire wear and see how the setups will comply with the racetrack. The weather also will be a great unknown as the start will be in the heat of the day at 330 pm, and the high temperatures are supposed to flirt with 90 degrees, by far the hottest day of the year, and will conditioning be a factor? Of course, these drivers are regularly conditioned when working out, but will each driver pass the test? Lots of great unknowns here.
2. The starting lineup.
The starting lineup was done via a blind draw putting Brad Keselowski, a former winner at Darlington(2018) on the pole. Here is your lineup in full. Make sure to pay attention to the top five for the race at Darlington.
3. The importance of this race.
As I said in my last piece, this Sunday’s race could be one of the most important races in NASCAR history, as most other sports are still shuttered due to the COVID19 pandemic, this could be a huge rating grab for NASCAR as well as a huge boost to the fanbase that has suffered in recent weeks due to the racial slur that Kyle Larson used over a hot mic in an iRacing event, I also compared the importance of this race to the 1979 Daytona 500, yes folks, it’s that big of a deal!
4. Where to from here? Four out of Five
There will be another Cup Series race at Darlington on May 20th, then a travel period ensues after that. It’ll be time to head to Charlotte for the Coca Cola 600 on May 24th. Then a 500k race on May 27th.
Yesterday, NASCAR released the next batch of races that would include Homestead, Talladega, Bristol and Martinsville all with no spectators, so for all you dads out there, Fathers Day weekend will be quite special, as Talladega will be run on Fathers Day, Michigan has been postponed, Chicagoland and Sonoma have been canceled and will not be run this season.
5. How will Newman do in his return?
After missing only 3 races since his near-fatal accident at Daytona, Ryan Newman saddles up for Sunday’s race in the 21st starting position. One would expect Newman to get re-acclimated to the driver’s seat and see how the race plays out. He ran a secret test with physicians present just to judge his reflexes and he did well. I would expect Ryan to not have any issue come Sunday. A top 10 finish, in my opinion, would be a great day. However, after giving a revealing interview with Bob Pockrass yesterday, all the “what-ifs” re-surfaced, but they don’t matter anymore. Now as NASCAR required teams to reinforce the driver’s compartment with more tuning behind the driver’s head in the event of a crash like that.
Don’t miss The Real Heroes 400, this Sunday on FOX, check your local listings for your local FOX affiliate