Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin have separated themselves from the rest of the NASCAR Cup Series field.
The duo has won half of the 16 races run so far this season with both Harvick and Hamlin racking up four victories a piece. Harvick leads the point standings and has only finished outside the top 10 three times all year while both drivers are tied with the most top fives in the campaign at nine each.
But stats don’t even tell the whole story. On a weekly basis, Harvick and Hamlin have been the only two drivers consistently in the conversation as race winners. It’s a mixed bag for the rest of the field with the majority of drivers and teams searching to find the kind of sustained success the top two have demonstrated since the start of the 2020 season.
"Look, this whole thing right now, really even on a normal season, our season is so long, there’s so many things going on, it really just comes down to a week-to-week sort of situation of what you focus on, what you think about," Harvick said after his third career Brickyard 400 win this past Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "You get too far ahead, you just start jumbling thoughts together.
"I know if we keep winning, the points will keep adding up. When it comes Playoff time, those will be very valuable. Right now everything is going so well, we’ve got momentum, you want to win as many races as you can while you’ve got that wave of momentum on your side."
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Although Hamlin’s Indianapolis experience ended in a disappointing flat tire and subsequent trip into the wall while he was leading late in the race, it hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for what his team has accomplished so far or what lies ahead.
"The way the races have played out, we’ve kind of made our bed to try to win the race because we’ve had race-winning cars," Hamlin said. "I’ll definitely take race wins over stage wins, especially knowing that race win counts for five of ’em.
"We’ve been doing good. Just marching in the regular season points. Obviously getting some Playoff points there. We just want to get back to the final four with a chance. That’s all I can ask for. It’s going to be a successful season if we find ourselves back in that final four with the chance again."
There are 10 races remaining in the regular season before the playoffs begin and Hamlin and Harvick have a shot to again make the Championship 4 and run for a title. Until then the two are enjoying their battle for supremacy and don’t see it ending anytime soon.
"You have to kind of smile about it because it’s two teams performing at a tremendously high level right now," Harvick said. "It has cycled around to the two of us for several weeks now. I think as you look at that, it definitely makes it fun. You want to have the upper hand on who finishes in front of who ratio at this point, especially because if that’s the guy you’re racing and the team you’re racing, you want to at least stay even par.
"You want to race the best. Those guys are two of the best. When you can race them head-to-head, go back and forth like Denny and myself have the last few weeks, Kyle (Busch) in the past, I mean, those are things that you show up to do, right? You want to race against the best guys. That’s what’s at this level. I think when you wind up racing against guys like that on a week-to-week basis, everybody is racing hard, respects each other, especially the older that we get, I think we realize the things that we’re doing are on the tail end of our career, and we’re enjoying those types of things."