LONG POND, Pa. -- Round 2 at Pocono went to Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin topped Kevin Harvick on Sunday night to win the second Cup race of the weekend at Pocono Raceway and flip the result of the opener. The 1-2 finish out of each driver is a clear sign they are poised to make a championship push.
"We just want to get to the final four with a chance," Hamlin said.
Hamlin has four wins this season for Joe Gibbs Racing, and Harvick has three for Stewart-Haas Racing as they start to separate themselves from the rest of the field.
Hamlin is racking up milestones as he chases his first NASCAR Cup championship. He has 41 victories to move to 19th on NASCAR's career list, and his sixth win at Pocono matched Jeff Gordon for the most at the 2½ mile tri-oval track.
"It's hard to believe because we went through such a dry spell there in the middle of my career," Hamlin said about his Pocono results.
Hamlin raced to his fourth victory of the season to cap a wild, marathon day of racing at the track, with three NASCAR races and nightfall in the finale. Pocono doesn't have lights -- but the pit road numbers were lit up and glowed as Hamlin won for the second consecutive year at Pocono.
Hamlin had a late vibration in his No. 11 Toyota on Saturday that hindered his attempt to catch Harvick down the stretch. About 25 hours later, Hamlin surged past Harvick and built a nearly 3-second lead once the SHR driver got caught up in lapped traffic.
"Our car was actually better today than it was yesterday," Harvick said. "We had to run in a lot of traffic there, and Denny kept ticking off laps."
The Daytona 500 champion's victory capped the first NASCAR tripleheader at one track. The race was delayed by lightning and rain, as much a part of Pocono as a JGR driver taking the checkered flag. Gibbs' roster has six of the last seven winners at Pocono.
"I hate to feel disappointed in a second and a first, but man, I felt like I should have won both races," Hamlin said.
They ran six laps before the race was red-flagged nearly 51 minutes because or rain. NASCAR ran several pace laps before the race finally went green again. It was a race against darkness to complete the full 350 miles.
Harvick won Saturday's race and put the brakes on a burnout -- he had to save that engine for another run in the same No. 4 Ford. The starting lineup was inverted for Sunday's race so Harvick started 20th.
Erik Jones was third, Chase Elliott fourth and Aric Almirola fifth.
The rain wreaked havoc with the third NASCAR race of the day at Pocono. Brandon Jones opened the day with a win in the Truck Series race, and Chase Briscoe won the Xfinity race. Pocono became the first track in NASCAR history to hold three national series races on the same day.
Harvick was a fan of the Cup doubleheader format.
"I think everybody would be super happy with a much shorter season and multiple doubleheaders," Harvick said.
Jimmie Johnson, a three-time winner at Pocono, was honored by the track over the weekend. Pocono painted "Jimmie" on one side of the start/finish line, added a painted "48 Jimmie Johnson" rock to their infield collection of race legends, and his two young daughters gave the command for the drivers to start their engines. He finished 16th.
But he also gave some inspiration to Hamlin.
"Maybe one day, I'll get one of those black rocks they've got here for all those good guys that have won it," Hamlin said.
He might get the rock, especially if he can pass Hall of Famer Gordon. The 39-year-old Hamlin feels he has plenty of time and talent left in the tank to set that mark.
"I don't think this is the last one," he said.
Kevin Harvick, center, talks with crew members in his garage after a practice session for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)