What started as the first NASCAR race with fans back in the stands ended under the lights Sunday as Denny Hamlin took home the Cup Series’ Dixie Vodka 400 inside Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Winning his 40th career Cup Series race, Hamlin drove the No. 11 FedEx Toyota to victory lane while holding off Chase Elliott and David Blaney. It's the third time Hamlin has come out on top in Homestead, going along with victories in 2009 and 2013.
In 2020, Hamlin has come out on top of both races after winning the first Cup Series race of the season - the Daytona 500.
NASCAR had their biggest obstacle come from the skies. A lightning delay and rain caused the race to start nearly 45 minutes after it was scheduled to begin followed by a second lightning delay causing the red flag to come out for over two hours. A third red flag came out at Lap 33, which caused another delay with this one lasting 30 minutes.
It was the first time the annual weekend was not NASCAR’s final race of the season, something the sport had done since the 2002 season. Originally, the races were scheduled for March 19th-21st, but were postponed by NASCAR as the pandemic struck America.
“That’s what is great about today. It’s not only NASCAR, it’s the first event hosting fans of any sports all over the world,” said Pierre Imar, healthcare worker from Miami who attended the event. “It’s awesome to have the ability to go and for the world, it’s a step forward.
Homestead was the first race since NASCAR resumed last month to have fans in the stands, with 1,000 members of the military along with family members in attendance.
It was one of the busiest weeks for auto racing’s top league, after NASCAR announced it was banning the confederate flag from events and not allowing fans to fly it at tracks - the same day the sport’s only African-American driver, Bubba Wallace, drove a car labeled with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter during Wednesday’s race in Virginia.
“We love cars, we love racing and all that. But, we didn’t respect the motions,” said Joseph Cid, a student at the University of Miami who attended the race. “But now that they’ve opened the doors, we’re here.”
NASCAR packed an entire weekend of action into just two days, starting Saturday with the Xfinity Series’ Hooters 250, won by Harrison Burton after starting the race in the pole position, followed by the Truck Series’ Baptist Health 200, which was won by Kyle Busch.
Before the Cup Series race, the Xfinity Series held their second race in Homestead this weekend - a race that was moved from Iowa amid postponements this season - as Chase Briscoe came out on top of the Contender Boats 250.
Briscoe survived two late cautions and a frantic overtime finish to prevail - adding to a nightmare weekend for Noah Gragson, who saw his lead slip away in the final laps for a second consecutive day.