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2020 NASCAR Current State

Racing at the famed Brickyard, now under the stewardship of Roger Penske, before empty grandstands, Denny Hamlin of Gibbs suffers heartbreak as his Toyota hotrod drops a tire and slams into the wall with only seven laps remaining, leaving the spoils to three-time winner Kevin Harvick of Stewart Haas.

FebruaryDaytona Clash2020 Daytona ClashAt Daytona for the Busch Clash (75 laps, 187 miles), the race comes to a Gibbs Toyota under Erik Jones in 1:37:51 (average 134.9 mph), .697 seconds ahead of a Chevrolet driven by Austin Dillon. A relatively mundane race turns chaotic with less than ten laps remaining after a block by race leader Joey Logano of Penske on Kyle Busch of Gibbs brings the grid to a grinding halt. An ensuing crash on the restart triggered by Kevin Harvick brings on a set of G-W-C sessions that subsequently eliminates Chase Elliott of Hendrick. During the third G-W-c session, Kyle Larsen of Ganassi seemingly holds matters in hand with his brash pass of race leader Jones on the approach to the white, yet Hamlin, down a lap, tucks in behind Jones on the final circuit backstretch and shoves his teammate past the remaining four cars all the way around for a stunning cross in the season opener. Photo Credit: FOX Sports.
FebruaryDaytona2020 DaytonaAt Daytona for the 500 in February, a Gibbs Toyota TRD takes race honors under Denny Hamlin (US) in 3:42:10 (average 141.11 mph), under a second (.014) ahead of a Ford driven by Ryan Blaney. After heavy rains force NASCAR to run the classic event on Monday afternoon, the race holds to standard form until only seventeen laps remain and Joey Logano (Penske Ford) shoves Aric Almirola (SHR Ford) in the rear, triggering a multi-car crash that eliminates many contenders from the race. Ryan Newman (Roush Ford) wins the restart and faces a strong challenge from Hamlin until Ross Chastain (Spire Chevrolet) triggers another multi-car shunt with only two laps remaining, nudging the race into a G-W-C condition. Newman and Hamlin battle through the first G-W-C, yet in the succeeding G-W-C session, Hamlin manages to briefly gap the chasing field before Newman and Brady hook up nose-to-tail on the backstretch and run down Hamlin on the final circuit to the flag. Ever game Hamlin tucks in behind and pushes Blaney through Turn 3 to close in on Newman, and as the triad enter the tri-oval for the last time, race leader Newman and Blaney veer low on the banking while Hamlin remains high up against the wall. Blaney tucks in to push Newman over the line, yet the contact turns Newman into the outer wall. The contact slows Blaney just enough to allow Hamlin to narrowly nose out the former at the wire by a fraction of a second, earning Hamlin his second consecutive and third overall victory at the Beach in February. Matters get only worse for Newman, who soars into the air after hitting the outer wall just before struck from behind at high speed by Corey LaJoie (St. Hilaire Ford). Newman flips in the air, crashes hard upside down on his roof, and hearts around the racing world stutter as a shroud of flames engulfs the driver cab. Track officials must cut Newman free from his entry before rushing the stunned driver to a Daytona Beach hospital, and all exhale a sigh of relief after learning of his release from the facility two days later. Photo Credit: Attribution Ascertained.
FebruaryLas Vegas2020 Las VegasA thrilling late race battle between teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney of Penske Ford literally goes up in smoke after a shunt with six laps remaining. Blaney unwisely gives up track position to take on fresh rubber and stablemate Logano pulls away at the point on the final restart with two laps remaining. Another crash on the circuit occurs as Logano takes the white flag, gifting him a good fortune cross at Vegas. Photo Credit:
MarchFontana2020 FontanaAlex Bowman of Hendrick outpaces Kyle Busch and the remaining field over the final 34 laps to win on the Penske-designed Southern California oval for his second career Cup victory. Photo Credit:
MarchPhoenix2020 PhoenixJoey Logano of Team Penske easily survives two restarts within the final ten laps and a G-W-C session to snare his second Cup season victory at the 'tweener' track at Phoenix. Photo Credit:
MayDarlington 12020 Darlington 1In the first race run by NASCAR since the COVID-19 shutdown, Kevin Harvick of Stewart Haas displays his rust-resistance and easily outmuscles the field for his fiftieth career Cup victory before a soulless Darlington grandstand. Photo Credit:
MayDarlington 22020 Darlington 2Denny Hamlin of JGR Toyota, leading on worn rubber, catches a tremendous with twenty laps remaining after the rain begins to fall and terminates the contest. Photo Credit:
MayCharlotte2020 CharlotteAt Charlotte for the former World 600 in May, a Penske Ford Mustang under Brad Keselowski (US) takes the flag in 4:29:55 (average 135.04 mph), under a second (.293) ahead of a Chevrolet driven by Chase Elliott. Elliott takes the lead with a strong pass of Keselowski with 37 laps remaining, yet a spin by Hendrick teammate William Byron on the final regulation lap brings out the caution. Caught in the weekly dilemma of whether to change rubber for the G-W-C session, Elliott unwisely pulls on the service lane, Keselowski stays out per the book, and Elliott cannot chase down Keselowski in time, thus gifting the Penske pilot a cherished maiden 600 victory. Team Penske wins the Memorial Day classic for the first time in a decade. Photo Credit: Chris Graythen.
MayCharlotte 22020 Charlotte 2Hendrick Pilot Chase Elliott moves ahead of Kevin Harvick of SHR with 28 laps remaining and applies a salve to a tough Charlotte week with a popular late night midweek victory interminably delayed by persistent rains. Photo Credit:
MayBristol2020 BristolAt Bristol for 500 laps (266.5 miles) in May, a Penske Ford driven by Brad Keselowski (US) notches a victory in 3:19.02 (average 80.34 mph), under a second (.471) ahead of a Ford driven by Clint Bowyer. Denny Hamlin of Gibbs leads with twenty laps to go, yet with only twelve laps to the wire, Hamlin gets loose, prompting a scramble that results in a Hamlin spin and a caution condition that lifts Hendrick driver Chase Elliott into the lead. Elliott wins the restart with five laps remaining before Joey Logano of Penske takes the point with three to go. Elliott dives deep into Turn 3 to retake the lead, breaks loose, and pushes Logano and himself up into the wall, allowing lurking Brad Keselowski of Penske to take advantage and again steal a victory in similar fashion to his cross at the 600 a week prior. Photo Credit: Jeff Birchfield.
JuneAtlanta2020 AtlantaKevin Harvick of Stewart Haas Racing executes his annual storm through Atlanta and makes short work of the field for his fifty-first career victory. Photo Credit:
JuneMartinsville2020 MartinsvilleMartin Truex Jr. of Gibbs Toyota roars to a wide margin victory as NASCAR races under the lights at Martinsville for the very first time. Photo Credit:
JuneHomestead2020 HomesteadDenny Hamlin of Gibbs Toyota runs down racy Chase Elliott of Hendrick before holding off the rest for the final 30 laps and his fortieth career Cup cross. Photo Credit:
JuneTalladega 12020 Talladega 1At Talladega for the 500-miler in June, a Penske Ford Mustang driven by Ryan Blaney (US) bests the field in 3:27:28 (average 146.93 mph), under a second (.007) ahead of a Chevrolet driven by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Alex Bowman of Hendrick leads a field running on empty fumes with twenty laps remaining before Tyler Reddick of Childress moves to the lead four laps later. Blaney and Stenhouse soon thereafter link up nose-to-tail and soar to the front with four laps remaining, yet matters tighten one lap later after Kevin Harvick of Stewart Haas turns hard charging Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick into the Turn 1 apron, bringing out the caution and forcing a G-W-C condition. The lead pack elects to stay on track despite low fuel and Harvick blows past race leader Blaney on the restart. Harvick takes the white flag, yet Blaney, again with a push from Stenhouse, climbs back into the hunt on the backstretch. The field begins wrecking in Turn 3, yet NASCAR allows the leaders to race to the stripe. In a furious dash, Blaney, Stenhouse, Aric Almirola of Stewart Haas and Eric Jones of Gibbs rub and scrape off each other before the wrecking again commences. Blaney and Stenhouse end up door-to-door in the closing meters and a resounding bounce between the two racers offers Blaney just enough leverage to claim the victory by the slenderest of margins (.007) in arguably the most exciting race on the season to date. Photo Credit: Attribution Unascertained.
JunePocono 12020 Pocono 1In a typical fuel economy race at Long Pond, Kevin Harvick of Stewart Haas takes the lead with fifteen laps remaining and holds off hard charging Denny Hamlin of Gibbs to take the first half of the Pocono weekend doubleheader. Harvick crosses for the first time at the Tricky Triangle. Photo Credit:
JunePocono 22020 Pocono 2In a rain delayed closer at the Pocono weekend doubleheader with sunlight swiftly fading, Denny Hamlin of Gibbs Racing leads the final fifteen laps and switches places with runner-up Kevin Harvick of Stewart Haas for the victory in a dramatic gloaming at the unlighted speedway. Photo Credit:
JulyBrickyard 4002020 Brickyard 400At Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400 in July, a Stewart Haas Ford driven by Kevin Harvick (US) crosses first in 3:16:05 (average 123.16 mph), under a second (.743) ahead of a Chevrolet driven by Matt Kenseth. Denny Hamlin of Gibbs Toyota leads Harvick in tight racing with twenty laps remaining and begins pulling away for seemingly a long awaited career victory before dropping a left front and slamming into the Turn 1 wall with just seven laps to go. Hamlin can only watch with disappointment from the infield care facility as Harvick, with a great push from teammate Cole Custer, wins the G-W-C restart over Kenseth and roars away for his second consecutive victory at the Brickyard and third overall for his career. Photo Credit: NASCAR