Long-time fans of the NASCAR Cup Series have had to take a step back and take a deep breath at times for what we have witnessed this year in the sport thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have been trained to turn on the TV on Sunday and watch a race and then talk about it until the next stop on the schedule the following Sunday. That was at one time the “norm” but I am not so sure that the new norm will require us fans to have to work a little harder to keep up with the sport and I for one like the ever revolving schedule as it has brought some much needed excitement back into the sport.
Over the weekend the long awaited doubleheader took place at Pocono Raceway and thanks to a rained out Truck Series race on Saturday, fans were treated to a never before seen tripleheader made up of all three of NASCAR’s national series. All three series have competed on the same day before but this was the first time that all three took place at the same track. The original 2020 Cup Series schedule contained back to back races at Pocono over the weekend with the Truck Series running on Saturday and the Xfinity Series taking its green flag on Sunday.
That schedule was changed when rain washed out the Trucks on Saturday forcing it to be the first of three races on Sunday morning with a 9:30 a.m. start with Brandon Jones taking the checkered flag.
The Xfinity Series followed with a 12:30 p. nearly an hour before Kevin Harvick won for the first time in his 39th start at Pocono as he beat second place finisher Denny Hamlin to the finish line.
The win was also his third of the season which tied him with Hamlin with the most wins on the season. Sunday’s Cup race which was originally scheduled to start m. green flag that ended with Chase Briscoe picking up his fourth win of the season. Saturday’s Cup race’s green flag was delayed for at 4:00 met the same fate as Saturday’s race as the green flag was delayed and once it started, rain began to fall forcing a red flag that didn’t see racing resume until around 6:15.
The delay had the event in its own race to be completed before darkness set in as the track does not have lights. The final laps on Sunday once again came down to a battle between Hamlin and Harvick with Hamlin eventually taking the green flag which was his fourth of the season and breaks the one day tie he had with Harvick for the series lead in wins.
The weekend finishes of both drivers have separated them from the rest of the field as being two of the favorites to advance into field of four drivers that will enter the final race of the season at Phoenix with the opportunity to run for the title. Harvick sits on top of the point standings at this time followed by Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott.
Hamlin sits in fifth, 75 points behind Harvick but leads the series in the all-important Playoff Points standings. Hamlin’s four wins and three stage wins give him a series leading 23 Playoff Points that he will carry with him throughout the 9-race playoff portion of the schedule leading up to the final race.
Harvick is second to Hamlin with 16 Playoff Points coming from his three wins and one stage win. Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman join Hamlin and Harvick as the only winners this season and all eight are now guaranteed a spot in the 16-driver Playoff field.
Several big name drivers including Kyle and Kurt Busch, Jimmy Johnson and Clint Bowyer will be going to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend looking for their first trip of the year to victory lane in the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400.