The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series has gotten off on a very good note for a number of drivers who have excelled so far this season.
The new schedule due to the COVID-19 crisis has managed to get to the 15-race mark after last weekend’s Pocono doubleheader. As the summer stretch to the playoffs gets ready to kick-off Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, these five drivers have separated themselves from the rest of the field as the best of the bunch:
Already a four-time winner, Hamlin’s season got off to the strongest of starts with his third career Daytona 500 win. Unlike the last time Hamlin won "The Great American Race," he has not slowed down especially since NASCAR’s return to action in mid-May at Darlington. Hamlin found Victory Lane in the second Darlington race along with trips to Homestead-Miami Speedway and now Pocono. He’s doing it with a combination of speed and as crew chief Chris Gabehart showed at Pocono some strategy as well.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver is the series point leader thanks in no small part to finishing inside the top-10 in 12 of the 15 races of the season. Three of those were wins with last Saturday’s Pocono victory added to previous triumphs in Darlington and Atlanta. Consistency in another element for Harvick’s success without any DNFs in the opening 15 races.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver has nine top-10 finishes in the first 15 races of 2020, the most he’s had at this juncture of a season during Elliott’s Cup career. He has one win coming at Charlotte Motor Speedway but has been in the mix to potentially have several more. If there is a deficiency in the No. 9 team it’s DNFs as Elliot has two on the year.
Maybe an unexpected member of this list when the season started if only because of Keselowski’s status with Team Penske. While he still doesn’t have a new deal with the team, which has not stopped the former champion from running well and Keselowski has put a pair of wins on the board at Charlotte and Bristol. His 10 top-10 finishes tie Keselowski for second best in the series and he’s also accumulated three stage wins thus far.
There could easily be more than just a single win in Blaney’s victory column this year especially the way he was running before the sport’s hiatus. Blaney was in contention nearly every week of the season until NASCAR hit the breaks in mid-March. His win at Talladega capped off a four-race stretch that saw Blaney finish in the top-five every race and he has seven such runs so far this season. Blaney and new crew chief Todd Gordon have meshed well early on in their relationship.