Kevin Harvick won Sunday’s race at New Hampshire for his first Cup series victory of the season.
The first half of the NASCAR season was dominated by Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske, but things have really been shaken up the past few weeks. We had the second win of the season for Hendrick Motorsports (and first by Alex Bowman), the first-ever win by Spire Motorsports, and then the first wins of the season for Ganassi and Stewart-HAAS.
All of a sudden, Victory Lane has some new faces and the season seems a lot more competitive. From Gibbs or Penske winning 15 of the first 16 races of the season, suddenly we’re at a point where six different organizations have won in the past six races.
Let’s dig in a little deeper for my three favorite statistical notes from the weekend.
Consistency reigns supreme
Kurt Busch picked up the victory two weeks ago at Kentucky, and Harvick followed suit this past weekend.
For both of them, it’s the 16th season in which they’ve won a Cup series race, tied for the ninth-most in series history and tied with Jimmie Johnson for the most by an active driver.
It’s a longevity record that’s impressive for the amount of time a driver has spent as capable of winning races at the top level of NASCAR. Darrell Waltrip also had 16 winning seasons, while drivers like Mark Martin and Terry Labonte each had 15.
The record, like most, belongs to Richard Petty with 22 seasons with a victory. Then it’s Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Allison with 20 apiece, followed by David Pearson with 18. But a victory for Busch or Harvick next season (or a win by Johnson this season) would tie them for the sixth most with Rusty Wallace, Ricky Rudd and Cale Yarborough.
Age is just a number
Harvick, 43, and Busch, 40, have won the past two races. Back-to-back 40-year-old winners isn’t an uncommon feat, it last happened last year, when Harvick and Busch pulled it off.
Now, three straight is when we start talking.
There have only been four win streaks of at least three races by 40-year-olds dating back to 2000. One of those came last season, when Harvick himself won three straight at the start of the season.
The record actually came back in 1991, when we had six straight winners north of 40. Those wins came courtesy of four straight by Harry Gant, followed by Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine victories.
Harvick is still winning at 43, the oldest winner in the series since Matt Kenseth’s final win at Phoenix in 2017. That was also his 15th win since turning 40, breaking a tie with Waltrip for 10th-most all-time.
Next up, the aforementioned Petty, 16 of his 200 wins came after turning 40.
Keeping it close
Sunday’s race was the eighth this season with a margin of victory of a quarter-second or less. When looking at the level of competition by purely a level of margin of victory, this has been a fine season.
Considering that last season only four of 36 races were decided by 0.25 seconds or less, the fact that we’re on pace for about 14 races this season to be decided by no more than 0.25 seconds is an accomplishment.
Already, the eight such finishes are tied with the 2011 season for the most since there were nine in 2005.
And if we can get to double-digits, it would be unprecedented. Since NASCAR began electronic scoring in the 1993 season, we’ve never had more than nine races decided by a quarter-second or less in a single season.