Kevin Harvick wins first Pocono race of doubleheader weekend

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nascar/sprint/drivers/205/" data-ylk="slk:Kevin Harvick">Kevin Harvick</a> waves a checker flag for photographers after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Kevin Harvick waves a checker flag for photographers after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Kevin Harvick now has a win at Pocono.

Harvick held off a late charge from Denny Hamlin to win Saturday’s race at Pocono in NASCAR’s first doubleheader weekend. The victory is Harvick’s first in 39 Pocono starts and his third of the 2020 season. Hamlin — the driver who finished second to Harvick — is the only other driver with three wins in the first 13 races of the season.

Harvick has won each of his three races after NASCAR resumed racing on May 17 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Harvick won that first race back at Darlington and then followed it up with a win at Atlanta on June 7.

The 2014 Cup Series champion has been one of the best in the Cup Series since joining Stewart-Haas Racing that same season. Twenty-nine of Harvick’s 52 career Cup Series wins have come in the past six-plus seasons with SHR.

Pocono’s first doubleheader

The track is hosting two Cup Series races in two days thanks to the Olympics even though they’ve been postponed to 2021.

NASCAR scheduled a doubleheader for the first time in the modern era to take a couple weeks off at the end of July as broadcast partner NBC would have been broadcasting the Tokyo Summer Olympics. As a result, the races were shortened from their typical 400 miles to 325 miles on Saturday and 350 miles on Sunday.

Teams have to run the same cars in both races unless they want to start at the back of the field on Sunday. Erik Jones and Tyler Reddick will likely be changing cars for Sunday’s race after they were involved in a crash during Saturday’s event.

That might have been the highlight of the race.

Pocono is suffering because of NASCAR’s rules

NASCAR’s decision to add downforce at big tracks in 2019 has never been more evident than it is at Pocono. The added downforce has turned the 2.5-mile triangle track into a snoozer. Last year’s races were uneventful and whoever was leading Saturday’s (relative) sprint typically went unchallenged. Harvick had the lead as the final pit stops of the race cycled through and held it to the end.

Sunday’s race would be more fun if there was something more different than an added 25 miles. Since there isn’t, it’s hard to see how it will be a thriller after what Saturday provided.

What Sunday could lack in quality it could make up for in quantity. The scheduled Truck Series race on Saturday was rained out and pushed to Sunday, meaning NASCAR will have Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Cup Series races on the same day.

The Truck Series race is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Full results

1. Kevin Harvick

2. Denny Hamlin

3. Aric Almirola

4. Christopher Bell

5. Kyle Busch

6. Martin Truex Jr.

7. Clint Bowyer

8. Michael McDowell

9. Brad Keselowski

10. Chris Buescher

11. Matt Kenseth

12. Ryan Blaney

13. Matt DiBenedetto

14. William Byron

15. Ryan Newman

16. Cole Custer

17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

18. Kurt Busch

19. Austin Dillon

20. Ryan Preece

21. Jimmie Johnson

22. Bubba Wallace

23. Corey LaJoie

24. John Hunter Nemechek

25. Chase Elliott

26. Ty Dillon

27. Alex Bowman

28. Daniel Suarez

29. Brennan Poole

30. Tyler Reddick

31. JJ Yeley

32. Josh Bilicki

33. Garrett Smithley

34. James Davison

35. Timmy Hill

36. Joey Logano

37. Joey Gase

38. Erik Jones

39. BJ McLeod

40. Quin Houff

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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