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Alex Bowman gets the checker flag as he finishes first during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Dover International Speedway, Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Dover, Del. Alex Bowman wins the race. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Bowman parks No. 48 car in familiar spot in victory lane at Dover

- Associated Press

Alex Bowman parked the No. 48 Chevrolet in its familiar spot in victory lane at Dover International Speedway, leading a dominant outing for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday. Bowman led Hendrick Motorsports to a sensational 1-2-3-4 finish in the NASCAR Cup Series races. Kyle Larson was second, Chase Elliott third and William Byron fourth.

Fans walk through the garage area before a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 9, 2021, in Darlington, S.C. It is the first time this year that fans are allowed back in the garage area. (AP Photo/Terry Renna) **FILE**

NASCAR takes step toward normalcy by starting to allow access a year after restart

- Associated Press

Vaccines have been available since early April to almost everyone in North Carolina, where most NASCAR teams are based, and it allowed NASCAR to put a plan in place for a reopening. There is no vaccine requirement for competitors, but NASCAR permitted teams, drivers and manufacturers to admit a total of 350 fully vaccinated guests and sponsors Sunday at Darlington.

Alex Bowman (48) stands on his car as he celebrates after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va., Sunday, April 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Bowman denies Hamlin with swift late move at Richmond

- Associated Press

Alex Bowman came from nowhere with 10 laps to go at Richmond Raceway to put the No. 48 Chevrolet in victory lane for the first time in nearly four years. Bowman won for the third time in his career Sunday and denied Denny Hamlin a win in a race he had dominated to become the eighth winner in nine Cup races this season.

Fans watch the trucks pass on the front stretch during the NASCAR Truck Series auto race Saturday, April 17, 2021, at Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Va. (James H Wallace/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

NASCAR coming to terms with new reality

- The Washington Times

The sport the fans have come back to is hardly the same. There are now reminders at nearly every turn of how the world has changed over the past year, none more noticeable than the health and safety protocols in place to prevent the tailgating that was once a pre-race staple of any event. Then there are the cultural shifts.

Water floods the vendor area as races for both the Truck Series and NASCAR Cup Series auto race were postponed due to inclement weather at Bristol Motor Speedway, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Bristol, Tenn. (AP Photo/Jenna Fryer)

Rain swamps Bristol dirt track, forcing NASCAR to try again Monday

- Associated Press

NASCAR’s hyped return to dirt is instead a muddy mess on hold at least until Monday. Torrential rains flooded campgrounds and parking lots surrounding Bristol Motor Speedway and created a rut for NASCAR far deeper than anything the Cup Series drivers encountered on the track.

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Kyle Larson celebrates after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, March 7, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Kyle Larson celebrates return with first win since suspension

- Associated Press

On Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Larson raced to his first NASCAR victory since he was reinstated from a nearly yearlong suspension. He ran just the first four races last season, then lost his job for using a racial slur while playing a video game early in the pandemic.

William Byron celebrates after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Byron gives NASCAR another surprise winner at Homestead

- Associated Press

William Byron was the third surprise winner through three races this season with his victory Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Byron joined Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell as unlikely winners to start this season.

Fans hold up three fingers during a lap three tribute honoring the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr., during the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. Dale Earnhardt, Sr., the all-time winner at Daytona, was killed in a fatal car crash at the speedway 20-years ago today. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) **FILE**

NASCAR banks on new fans replacing any upset over Confederate flag ban

- Associated Press

NASCAR was serious this time, even if meant alienating a portion of its fan base. Steve Phelps, who in 2018 became NASCAR's fifth president and its most progressive, only saw upside in social consciousness -- for every fan who complained about lost heritage, someone new would discover a sport far more inclusive than initially perceived.

Christopher Bell celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series road course auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Bell snags first Cup victory in another surprise Gibbs win

- Associated Press

Bell won in his second race driving for Joe Gibbs Racing to give the team a pair of surprising victories at Daytona International Speedway. Ty Gibbs, the 18-year-old grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs, won the Xfinity Series race Saturday night in his first career national series start.