Late scratch: Harvick knocks off Pocono from winless list

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Kevin Harvick celebrates in the winners circle after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

LONG POND, Pa. – Kevin Harvick hit pause on that victory swirl of scorched rubber and billows of smoke at Pocono Raceway. Sure, Harvick needed to save the engine for a repeat run in the same Ford and a shot at a weekend sweep in a Cup Series twin bill. He stood on his car alone again in victory lane in front of another race with barren grandstands and the only noise at the track just a few cheers from his Stewart-Haas Racing crew.

It’s not much of a blowout if there’s no one at the party.

“I’m not doing anymore celebrations with nobody out there to celebrate with,” Harvick said. “Until the fans come back, I'm not doing a burnout, I'm not standing on the car, I'm not doing any of that stuff. It doesn't feel right not having my team in victory lane."

Harvick snapped an 0-for-38 drought at Pocono, taking the checkered flag Saturday at one of two tracks where victory had eluded him.

Harvick won the first of two NASCAR Cup races in front of no fans this weekend at Pocono and will start 20th on Sunday with the field set by inverting the lead-lap finishers.

The 44-year-old California driver has won at every active track except Kentucky Speedway (nine tries) and the 2014 series champion has three wins overall for SHR this season. He has three career wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway, though he’s lost two races on the roval configuration.

Harvick held off a hard-charging Denny Hamlin, whose efforts were hampered by a late vibration, for his 52nd career Cup victory. He had 12 top-five finishes in his other 38 starts at Pocono.

“That’s great to finally check Pocono off the list,” Harvick said.