One-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Jarrett believes the late clash between Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott at Darlington on Wednesday would have sparked "ugly" scenes without the COVID-19 situation.
NASCAR's return to the track took a twist when two of its biggest stars clashed on track, with Elliott giving Busch a one-fingered salute after contact between them sent him spinning into the wall and out of second position, allowing Busch's team-mate Denny Hamlin to win the second race back after the coronavirus postponements.
With the race red-flagged moments later due to rain, attention quickly turned to pit road where Elliott's team assembled on the wall near Busch's car - and appeared to be readying themselves for some form of confrontation.
NASCAR officials were quickly on the scene and appeared to dissuade any physical interaction between team members, as the sport's sanctioning body has made social distancing measures a keystone of its return.
Instead, Elliott's crew chief Alan Gustafson took it upon himself to speak one-on-one with Busch, with Gustafson having history with Busch as his former crew chief from 2005-07. Busch duly held his hands up for the mistake that wrecked his rival's race.
Appearing on NBCSN's Lunch Talk Live show, three-time Daytona 500 winner and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Jarrett said it was a sign of the times that there wasn't a scuffle between crews or drivers.
When asked if the situation would usually have developed into something more, 1999 champion Jarrett replied: "100%, that could have escalated in a hurry in a different time. Go back to last year, that would've turned into something with the crews getting involved.
"Even Alan Gustafson, a good friend of Kyle Busch, the crew chief for Chase Elliott, he knew Chase had this race in hand. He had the best tyres and he had the best car at that time, and was probably going to dispose of Denny Hamlin there.
"Chase would have got there and he probably would have been involved in that, and things could have got a little bit ugly. But we expect that from these competitors in NASCAR. Not that I'm advocating violence, but going and standing your ground? Hey, there's nothing wrong with that.
"We'll get back to that time, hopefully. We need sports, we need competition, and it makes us feel special seeing these athletes doing extraordinary things. We'll have some scuffling going on, hopefully before this year is over."