We’re already start to engrave the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy. Most would bet that the champion’s surname would start with “Ha.” I mean, Kevin Harvick just swept the weekend in Michigan with a combined 182 laps led out of 317 circuits including three of the four stages wins and a victory both days.
He now has six wins on the season and nine straight top five finishes too. Harvick, bested Denny Hamlin by just .093-seconds in Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400. Hamlin, has nine top two finishes this year including five of them in the last eight races. He’s won five times in 2020 too.
Combined, the duo have won 11 of the 22 races this year and 10 of the 18 during the pandemic.
But, we can’t sleep on Martin Truex Jr. though. He was third in both races at Michigan and now has four consecutive third place finishes in his No. 19 Toyota on the season and four straight top four finishes at the Michigan International Speedway.
Also, Truex has five top three finishes in his last six starts on the year too.
“No, I think we have a shot, for sure,” Truex said when asked if he has Final Four potential. “I think we’re right there. I feel like today and yesterday both, all the stuff we had to overcome to be able to get back up front shows that we have a strong team and we’re doing the right things.”
Truex says that they still need to find more speed in certain tracks, but in terms of 1.5-mile tracks, he thinks that they are at their best at.
“It’s just tough,” Truex continued. “We definitely need a little more speed on a few certain tracks. The mile-and-a-half’s I feel like we’ve been probably the strongest car. Texas. Kentucky for sure I thought we had the car to beat. Kansas was right there, as well. I think we’re right there.
“The final four, it’s not even worth talking about till you make it there, you know what I mean? We’ve dominated seasons in the past and lost the championship in the final races, as well. It’s not as easy as just being the best team, approaching the Playoffs with the most momentum.”
The thing that worries Truex is his lack of playoff points. He has just seven in 2020. By comparison, Harvick has 35. Hamlin has 29. Even Brad Keselowski has 21.
“There’s a lot to be said about Playoff points,” said Truex. “We definitely don’t have near as many as we would like to have or are used to having.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s a lot less comfortable, especially as you get through the rounds without having those points to fall back on. Again, we’ll have to wait and see. 2015 we only won one race all season, found our way to the final four by being consistent.
“What I like about what we’ve done lately is be consistent. We’ve had cars capable of winning four, five, six races this year. Things just haven’t worked out for us. We’ve made some small mistakes here and there as well. Just try to clean that stuff up, continue to find little things to make us more competitive.
“Again, I feel like we’re strong. I feel like we’re right there. This sport is tough. There’s a lot of good competition out there. We got to get better and we’re working hard to do it.
“Our goal for the next couple races is obviously going to be to try to get some more of those (playoff points).
In order to do that, he has to start races off better. On Saturday, he made light contact with Tyler Reddick and had to have an unscheduled pit stop for a flat tire. He’d finish 35th and 31st in the two stages but rebound to come home third in the end.
On Sunday, his car wasn’t to his liking early and would finish 20th and 16th in the two stages. Still, there he was in the end with another top five when it was all said and done.
“Yeah, you know, quite a bit different,” Truex said of his two days. “I think when we talked yesterday after running third, feeling like our car was really strong all day, we went and messed it up. We tried a few things, tried to get better. Clearly was worse.
“At the start of the race we were pretty far off. Had to, much like yesterday, really battle all day long. Towards the first two stages, we were pretty far off. Kept making adjustments. James and the guys did a good job of doing that. Was able to work our way up through there on restarts, ultimately have a shot there.
“Running second after the restart, started getting really tight. Just really chased the balance of the car all day long. Never could get it where we needed it.”