Rain and Birds Fly at Darlington

Danny Hamlin LVMS Fall 2019 - photo by Ron Olds


NASCAR Cup Series returned to Darlington Raceway on Wednesday for the second time in 3 days for the Toyota 500. Two races at the same track within 3 days, and the second race without fans. The racing action is as intense as ever even with the empty stands and modified pit stops with less personal over the wall to service the cars.

Rain dampened the mood early as the area suffered torrential rain, but the NASCAR Titan rain crew were able to get the track dry with just a slight delay at the start of the race. The rain would make a return with 20 laps remaining with Denny Hamlin in the lead and teammate Kyle Busch in his mirror. Hamlin who spent his quarantine time racing and winning on the iRacing platform appears to be a front runner for the 2020 championship.

The rain threatened to make its way back over the track with less than 50 laps remaining, the action on track reached a fever pitch. With 28 laps remaining, contact between Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott sent the #9 car of Elliott hard into the inside wall. Elliott would exit his wrecked car on the shoulder of the track waiting for Busch to circulate by. In borrowing a page from his fathers era in racing as Busch drove by Elliott unleashed a very well executed single bird salute.

Chase Elliott and Alan Gustafson – Phoenix Raceway 2020 – photo by Ron Olds

The race would be stopped shortly after the clean up of the crash when rain started to fall. The cars were brought down pit lane and the race was red flagged. As the drivers sat in there cars, the crew of Elliott lead by crew chief Alan Gustafson sat on the wall adjacent to where Busch was parked on pit row.

The race was declared complete due to rain with 20 laps remaining, as Busch exited his car he was confronted by Gustafson Busch’s own former crew chief. The pair exchanged words from a distance before heading their separate ways into the garage.

Busch took full blame for the incident and shared his side of what happened.

“I’m certainly going to reach out,” Busch said after the race. “Him and I have always had a cordial relationship over the years. Certainly, we’re not near as close, we’re not friends like you’d say him and (Ryan) Blaney are or anything like that. I’ve known him since he was 12 or 13 years old, been racing with him ever since then, late models, super late models, Trucks, Xfinity cars, all that sort of stuff.

“Obviously, I just made a mistake, misjudged the gap, sent him into the wall,” he added. “That was entirely unintentional. Yeah, I mean, I’ll definitely reach out to him and tell him I’m sorry, tell him I hate it that it happened. All I can do. That doesn’t change the outcome of the night.”

Race Results
NASCAR Cup Series Race Number 6
Toyota 500 – Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Darlington Raceway – Darlington, SC –

1 – Denny Hamlin
2 – Kyle Busch
3 – Kevin Harvick Mo
4 – Brad Keselowski
5 – Erik Jones STA
6 – Joey Logano
7 – Aric Almirola
8 – Jimmie Johnson
9 – Matt DiBenedetto
10 – Martin Truex Jr.
11 – Christopher Bell
12 – William Byron
13 – Tyler Reddick
14 – Ryan Newman
15 – Kurt Busch
16 – Bubba Wallace
17 – Michael McDowell
18 – Alex Bowman
19 – Ty Dillon
20 – Austin Dillon
21 – Ryan Blaney
22 – Clint Bowyer
23 – Chris Buescher
24 – Corey LaJoie
25 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
26 – Quin Houff
27 – Daniel Suarez
28 – JJ Yeley
29 – Joey Gase
30 – 42 Matt Kenseth
31 – Cole Custer
32 – Gray Gaulding
33 – Timmy Hill
34 – Garrett Smithley
35 – John Hunter Nemechek
36 – BJ McLeod
37 – Brennan Poole
38 – Chase Elliott
39 – Ryan Preece