Kevin Harvick hasn’t won a NASCAR Cup Series race since Bristol Motor Speedway on September 19, 2020. Denny Hamlin hasn’t been to Victory Lane since October 4, 2020 at Talladega Superspeedway. With this weekend’s doubleheader at Pocono Raceway taking the Cup Series once race past its official halfway point for 2021, it’s fair to say that Harvick and Hamlin — who combined for 16 victories last season — are both long overdue for a win.
The good news for Harvick and Hamlin? They split last year’s first-ever Pocono doubleheader, with Harvick going to Victory Lane on Saturday and Hamlin doing the same the following day. Both could use a weekend like they had here last year to kickstart their quest for the 2021 Cup championship and slow down the momentum of Hendrick Motorsports, which has won each of the past five points races. Harvick actually has some momentum of his own coming into the weekend, having finished a solid fifth on Sunday at Nashville Superspeedway. It was the 2014 Cup champion’s first top-five since a runner-up finish at Kansas Speedway on May 2. “I don’t know if we made a statement, but we ran better,” Harvick said.
Hamlin, on the other hand, came home a disappointing 21st in the Music City and hasn’t recorded a top-five since placing fifth at Darlington Raceway on May 9. “We are going to get better,” the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota said. “We always play the game to try to get better at the right time, so I’m not worried. There is a panic button, but I’m not really there yet.’’