Even with Chase Elliott finally checking the proverbial winner’s box this past weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, more than one big-name driver remains shut out of Victory Lane heading into Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 — the 15th race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Atop the list of drivers still seeking their first win of 2021 is the driver who is atop the points standings, Denny Hamlin, who despite performing well enough this season to lead the points has lacked all manner of luck when it comes to actually finishing in P1.
Perhaps just as surprising as Hamlin’s absence from Victory Lane has been Kevin Harvick’s failure to win a race. Collectively, these two veteran drivers took home a whopping 16 trophies in 2020 and spent most of the season looking like the drivers to beat for the championship. While neither Harvick nor Hamlin ultimately claimed the title, which went to Chase Elliott, both Harvick and Hamlin entered 2021 as championship favorites. The fact that not one but both of them have been unable to record even a single victory more than a third of the way through the season is in all reality the biggest surprise of the season to date.
The good news for Harvick and Hamlin? Both are former winners at Charlotte, with Harvick having triumphed in the 600 on two occasions and Hamlin having scored a victory in the 2015 running of the NASCAR All-Star Race. Less surprising but notable nevertheless is that 2004 series champion Kurt Busch is winless this year. Busch swept the running of the All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600 on back-to-back weekends in 2010 and certainly can’t be counted out on Sunday night.