LONG POUND, Pa. – Kevin Harvick broke a 0 out of 38 drought at Pocono Raceway and took the checkered flag at one of the two circuits where he missed the mark on Saturday.
Harvick won the first of two fanless NASCAR Cup races in Pocono this weekend and will start 20th on Sunday with the field set by reversing the lead lap finishers.
The 44-year-old California driver has won on every active track except Kentucky Speedway (nine tries) and the 2014 series champion has achieved three wins for Stewart-Haas Racing this season.
Harvick held off a hard-charging Denny Hamlin for his 52nd career cup win. He had 12 top five finishes in his other 38 starts at Pocono. Tampa’s Arica Almirola came in third.
He stopped the festive burnout – Harvick needs the same car for Sunday’s race.
“That’s great to finally get Pocono off the list,” said Harvick.
Ryan Preece finished 20th and started on pole on Sunday.
The race was on the second Saturday, but the Truck Series race was washed away by rain. That puts a little bit of history on Sunday: Truck, second-rate Xfinity and Cup will all run on Sunday. It is the first time that three NASCAR National Series races will be held on the same track on the same day.
NASCAR wanted the trip to Pocono to be one of the most tumultuous weeks in its history, after a noose found in Bubba Wallace’s stable in Talladega last week led to a federal investigation. The incident was not ruled as a hate crime. NASCAR President Steve Phelps declared “the noose was real,” but it remains unknown who held it. Wallace, who prompted NASCAR to ban the Southern flag, has become NASCAR’s advocate for social change, acknowledging that his time in the national spotlight had “knocked him over.” He finished 22nd in the No. 43 Chevrolet.
The weekend should have been one of the wildest in Pocono history. Track officials were optimistic that the infield would be full of racing fans looking to experience four NASCAR races in two days.
“The infield would have been a sight to behold, one that probably hadn’t been seen on the NASCAR circuit for decades,” said Nick Igdalsky, CEO of Pocono. “We just couldn’t see it this year. Hopefully next year we will have the opportunity to really show what we can bring out here. ”
Brad Keselowski, who drove to his one and only Pocono win in 2011, tweeted some sort of love letter associated with his memories of the track dating back to his childhood when he came to see his father, Bob, compete in ARCA races.
“Perhaps that brings up the saddest emotion, because we don’t have fans in Pocono for our races this year,” Keselowski tweeted. “The energy and enthusiasm of the infield crowd here has a real character unlike other songs. In Pocono, the community makes NASCAR feel really loved, we miss your racing fans. ”
There was a new look around the 3½ mile long tri-oval.
The track topped its leaderboard in ads as the pandemic wreaked havoc with plans to upgrade to a modern LED scoring tower. Pocono also had 1,250 fans who virtually signed the start / finish line. Staff members wrote each name on the start / finish line prior to the race weekend. The 1250 number corresponded to the planned number of miles to be traveled this weekend. Pocono even sold a race weekend T-shirt with “Quarantined” stamped over the logo on his website.
Talladega Superspeedway was allowed up to 5,000 fans for its race weekend and only 1,000 fans, mainly military members and their guests, were admitted to Homestead-Miami Speedway two weeks ago.
Pocono is in Monroe County, which has entered the green denomination of Pennsylvania. The green phase limits public meetings to 250 people. But Governor Tom Wolf’s guidance for professional sports does not oblige spectators, even in green.
“I wish you were here,” Harvick told fans watching at home. “This wasn’t nearly as exciting.”