● This time last year, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway was one of the few tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule where Kevin Harvick hadn’t yet won. He fixed that by leading the final 17 laps to take the checkered flag by .761 of a second over second-place Denny Hamlin in the first race of the doubleheader weekend. Harvick then followed up his win with a strong second-place finish on Sunday.
● This year’s doubleheader at Pocono will mark Harvick’s 41st and 42nd career NASCAR Cup Series starts at the 2.5-mile triangle. Harvick has finished among the top-10 in half of his races at Pocono. He has 14 top-fives there as well, a stat that includes four second-place finishes.
● Harvick has also enjoyed success outside of the NASCAR Cup Series at Pocono. He has made two career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at the track, winning from the pole in 2011 and finishing second in 2015.
● Last year’s doubleheader at Pocono was eagerly anticipated by the NASCAR industry. Two NASCAR Cup Series races on back-to-back days was going to be Pocono’s calling card – and then COVID hit. In order to get in all of its 36 points-paying races during a truncated timeframe, doubleheaders also took place Aug. 8-9 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn and Aug. 22-23 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Pocono, however, was still the first, and now in 2021, is the only doubleheader on the calendar.
● How’d Harvick do at those other doubleheaders last year? He swept the Michigan races and won the second race at Dover after finishing fourth the day before. Harvick’s average finish across the six races that comprised all the doubleheaders was 1.667.
● We know the doubleheader involves two races in two days, but how is the starting field for each race determined? Thankfully, we know that too. The starting lineup for the first race was determined by Metric Qualifying, with the numbers coming from each drivers’ respective performance in last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway. So, who’s ready for some math?! It involves 15 percent of the driver’s fastest lap time position, 25 percent of the driver’s final race finishing position, 25 percent of the car owner’s final race position and 35 percent of the car owner’s points position. Just like in golf, lowest score wins. In the case of the first race at Pocono, Nashville race winner Kyle Larson is on the pole. Harvick, who finished fifth at Nashville, will start third. But wait, there’s more! The finishing order of the first Pocono race will determine the starting order of the second Pocono race. The top-20 finishers from Saturday’s race will have their final finishing positions inverted for Sunday’s race. So, the race winner will start 20th, second-place will start 19th, and so on. Drivers finishing between 21st and 40th on Saturday will start Sunday’s race in the same order they finished on Saturday. All of that was very math-centric. Who’s ready for an ice-cold Busch Light? Yes, we’ve got that too.
● The doubleheader does involve some quirks, but it’s all good as they come at a quirky track. Pocono is the only triangular-shaped track on the NASCAR Cup Series calendar. Its layout was designed by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rodger Ward, who modeled each of its three turns after a different track. Turn one, which is banked at 14 degrees, is from the legendary Trenton (N.J.) Speedway. Turn two, banked at eight degrees, is a nod to the turns at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And turn three, banked at six degrees, is based on the corners at The Milwaukee Mile. The first race on the 2.5-mile triangle came in 1971, but it wasn’t until Aug. 4, 1974 that NASCAR visited, with the inaugural race won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty.
● There’s a new logo on the front fender of the No. 4 Ford Mustang this weekend at Pocono. Unibet, a part of the Kindred Group, has partnered with Stewart-Haas Racing and Harvick to further grow its presence in the United States and, specifically, with motorsports. The Unibet brand is building on its years of European experience in the responsible gambling and player sustainability field and extending that mindset to its U.S. operations, with motorsports being a key platform. Unibet will have a larger presence on the No. 4 car later this year when it serves as the primary sponsor for Harvick at two NASCAR Cup Series races – Aug. 15 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Oct. 31 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Unibet will also serve as the primary sponsor for Harvick during the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Aug. 14 at Indianapolis. Kindred is one of the top online gambling operators with business across Europe, the U.S. and Australia. Sports betting is legal in more than a dozen states and in line with sports betting’s growth, Unibet wants to expand it user base, with the platform already available to residents in Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Jersey and Virginia.