Kevin Harvick

I have not spent much time on NASCAR this season so it’s time to delve into the 2020 season. As we all know, the season came to a screeching halt in March after just four races because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The sport came back after a 10-week break and it looks like a full schedule will be completed. The season reached the halfway point last week in the 36-race schedule. There are just eight regular-season races remaining for drivers to qualify for the 10-race playoffs starting in September.

There have been 10 different race winners automatically securing their places in the playoffs, so only six spots remain. In other words, the pressure is on for a number of drivers.

Having only six playoff berths is one surprise thus far this season. Here are some other things that have surprised me.

First of all, Kyle Busch still has yet to win a race. We are talking about the defending champion. It is hard to imagine the playoffs with Busch not being a part of it. It is not like he has not been a factor this season. Through 18 races, Busch has eight top-5 finishes and 10 top-10s. He just has not been the first driver to see the checkered flag in 2020. I did find another stat that indicates Busch’s car is lacking speed is the fact that he has only led 150 laps this season. I also saw that Busch had four wins at this point last season. Something is going on with his team.

Denny Hamlin

A milder surprise is that the campaign has basically been a two-man show between Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. Each has four wins and it seems like both are always running up front. Harvick has 11 top-5 finishes and 15 top-10s while Hamlin, who was 20th Sunday, is at nine top-5 finishes and 10 top-10s.

I understand that both drivers are perennial championship contenders, so their success is hardly a surprise. But no one is in their class thus far in 2020. Hamlin just might win his first title. If not, Harvick may pick up his second championship.

Cole Custer has been a huge surprise. The Rookie of the Year candidate shocked the racing world earlier this month when he won at Kentucky Speedway. I looked it up. The last rookie to win was Chris Buescher back in 2016.

I will close with a surprising question. Where did Joey Logano go? He had two race wins prior to the break and won four race stages. Logano has done little since racing returned in May. He will obviously be around in the playoffs but improvement needs to be found.