This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.
Kevin Harvick entered Sunday's The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway as one of the favorites, and his calm and consistent approach to the race paid off with his first victory of the season. He raced at the front for most of the afternoon, and ultimately held off Alex Bowman and Kurt Busch as he eased ahead to victory. Sunday's race was one with many unknowns after the season was halted after just four races. The teams had been off for what amounted to a normal offseason and were forced right back into action with minimal crew personnel, no practice and no qualifying. The drivers and crew chiefs weren't able to work on their cars until racing got underway, and everyone held their breath as the field flung themselves into the first turn.
Sunday's race was just the first of an unprecedented number of races lined up for the next six weeks. The limited contingent will return to Darlington again this Wednesday before heading over to Charlotte Motor Speedway for two more races next week. This week's race will be on the same circuit, but it would be fallacy to expect a carbon copy of what we saw on Sunday. The cooler temperatures brought on by racing in the night on a track with a little more rubber laid down will be another challenge as the series moves full steam ahead to make up for lost time.
Kevin Harvick – Harvick started Sunday's race with the lead and victory