Harvick holds off Hamlin for Michigan doubleheader sweep

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Kevin Harvick (4) races Aric Almirola (10) during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kevin Harvick won just about everything he could in a stellar weekend at Michigan International Speedway, although fittingly, Denny Hamlin was the last driver to pressure him.

Harvick held off Hamlin on Sunday to complete a doubleheader sweep in the NASCAR Cup Series. He'd also won Saturday's race, and the two victories gave him six on the season — the most of any driver.

Hamlin, who has five victories, nearly chased Harvick down at the very end, and this weekend did nothing to dispel the notion that these two are top contenders for this year's championship.

“I have tremendous respect for everyone on that team and Kevin,” Hamlin said. "As we’ve gotten older, we’ve gotten wiser and learned to really appreciate what each other does on the race track. Obviously, they’re having a great season as well.”

Hamlin was right behind Harvick for the final few laps and came close to passing him a couple of times, but Harvick stayed in front. Hamlin’s final desperate bid came up short at the end when Harvick crossed the finish line 0.093 seconds ahead.

Harvick also won the first two stages Saturday and the second stage Sunday. Clint Bowyer won Sunday’s first stage of the 156-lap, 312-mile race.

With NASCAR running an adjusted schedule because of the coronavirus, both Michigan races were held on the same weekend. That meant Harvick became the first driver since Richard Petty in 1971 to win back-to-back Cup races on consecutive days. Petty did it July 14 and 15 at Islip and Saratoga.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve raced back-to-back days, let alone in the Cup car,” Harvick said. "I’ve never accomplished that obviously, but we’ve done that a couple times this year, so I think for us it’s worked out pretty well. We’re hoping it goes the same way at Dover when we go there in a couple of weeks.”