BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kevin Harvick won just about everything he could in a stellar weekend at Michigan International Speedway and, 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 victories this season, the most of any driver.
Hamlin, who has five victories, nearly chased Harvick down at the 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 racetrack. 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 when Harvick crossed the finish line 0.093 seconds ahead.
Harvick also won the first two stages Saturday and the second stage Sunday.
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. … We're hoping it goes the same way at Dover when we go there in a couple of weeks."
The two Michigan races were similar, with no major incidents through the first two stages. Saturday's finish was more chaotic with a number of late cautions. On Sunday, there were only three cautions, not including the yellow periods at the end of the first two stages.
One of those cautions Sunday came after a wreck knocked out two of Team Penske's stars.
Brad Keselowski's Ford made contact with Ryan Blaney's No. 12 car shortly after the start of the final stage, sending the teammates slamming into the wall.
"It's my fault. I feel really bad for my teammate, Ryan Blaney," Keselowski said. "He didn't deserve that. ... I went to get underneath the 12 and I just slipped. I lost the back a little bit and when I went to collect it he was there and I wiped him out and myself out, so I feel terrible for everyone at Team Penske and especially Ryan Blaney."
That wasn't enough to ruin the day for Ford, which has now won six straight Cup races at Michigan. Harvick has taken four of the past five.
"When you start getting texts from Edsel Ford on how important the weekend is, you answer those," Harvick said.