Historic sweep for Harvick

By Bob Priddy, Contributing Editor

(NASCAR)—Kevin Harvick won both NASCAR Cup races at Michigan International Speedway this weekend, the first driver to win two consecutive races on two consecutive days since Richard Petty did it 49 years ago.

Harvick took the lead for the final time Saturday with 34 laps left and outran Brad Keselowski to the finish. Keselowski was trying to become the first Michigan-native driver to post a Cup win at the Brooklyn, Michigan track. Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Blaney, and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.

Harvick won all three stages of the race Saturday.

Clint Bowyer, (in the 14-car racing William Byron at Michigan) who had a top-ten run in the second stage, faded to 19th at the end of the Saturday race. That mediocre finish gave him the number two starting position for the Sunday race as NASCAR inverted the top 20 finishers from Saturday’s race for the start Sunday, meaning Harvick started 20th in the 39-car field.  Bowyer took advantage of his starting position and led all 43 laps to win the first stage then followed it with a fifth in stage two. But once again, he faded in stage three and crossed the line 14th.

Harvick needed only 48 laps to take the lead for the first time in the Sunday race. He led 90 of the race’s 156 laps to pull into a tie with retired St. Louis driver Rusty Wallace for tenth on the all-time Cup victories list with 55. His weekend sweep gives him six wins this year, one more than Denny Hamlin, who finished .093 seconds behind him. Truex, Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano made up the rest of the top five.

Kyle Busch, last year’s Cup champion, has yet to win through 22 races this year.

Although Bowyer finished both races in the teens this weekend, he remains in contention for one of the 16 playoff spots that will be determined in four more races. He’s fourth among non-winning drivers, 34 points up on William Byron, who is the first driver outside the top 16.

(FORMULA 1)—Max Verstappen with the Aston-Martin Red Bull team won the Emirates 70th Anniversary Formula 1 race at England’s Silverstone course, the track where the first Formula 1 race was run in 1950 (Giuseppe Farina won that race in an Alfa).  Verstappen outran Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to become the first non-Mercedes driver to win a Grand Prix race this year.

Verstappen won by a wide margin of 11 seconds over Hamilton and 19 seconds over Bottas.

(INDYCAR)—INDYCAR had planned to run a Saturday/Sunday doubleheader at Mid-Ohio this weekend but the track announced the races would be postponed because of “communication with local health officials given the current environment.”  Ohio’s health department reported the state had gone past the 100,000 mark in Coronavirus cases Sunday with 879 cases on Saturday.

The series hopes to re-schedule the races for September or October.

Next up for the series is the Indianapolis 500 on August 23rd. Although Speedway and series owner Roger Penske had planned to have a limited number of spectators in the stands because of the COVID-19 pandemic, conditions in Indianapolis have forced him to prohibit any fans in the grandstands for the race.

DragonSpeed Racing announced last week that it would enter a car for Ben Hanley, guaranteeing there would be enough cars to fill the traditional 33-car starting field. Racer.com reported the addition to the lineup last week, recalling that Hanley started 27th last year but dropped out of the race with a broken half-shaft on the 54th lap and finished 32nd.

The starting field for the Indianapolis 500 has been 33 cars since 1933. Only twice has the race started with fewer than that number, 1941 and 1947.

Qualifications for the race will be next weekend, also without fans in the stands.

(Photo Credit: NASCAR, Rick Gevers)