Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick had an exchange of sheet metal and words at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday.
With just minutes left in the one and only practice for the Tums Fast Relief 500 on Sunday — after Friday’s sessions were rained out — Biffle plowed into the back of Harvick’s car. Harvick had just returned to the track with fresh tires and had yet to reach maximum speed before Biffle made contact on the frontstretch.
As the pair then went into the corner, the No. 29 came up into the No. 16 and sustained damage on the right front side of the nose of the Chevrolet before he parked on the backstretch to put a halt to the incident.
But the skirmish continued in the garage as Biffle went to confront Harvick after the drivers climbed from their cars.
Biffle told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper that the incident began with Jeff Gordon “in the middle of the corner” before the initial contact on the frontstretch.
“(Harvick) stopped beside Jeff and kind of pulled down on him,” Biffle told the newspaper’s website. “I think he was upset because Jeff had pulled out on the track in front of him on new tires. So, I’m coming at full speed. Kevin took off right when I got there, so then I was on Harvick’s bumper coming down the frontstretch and he lifted early and you can’t blame me for that. Shoot, I didn’t know he was coming out of the gas like that. I don’t know what his agenda was.
“I, naturally, bumped him and actually I kind of wiggled him because when he came out of the gas, I shot to the top to try go (by) because I wasn’t sure if he was coming out of the gas to come into the garage. Normally, you do that off of (Turn) 2.”
Harvick, who also competed in the truck race, was not immediately available for comment. But from the perspective of crew chief Gil Martin, “Biffle ran into us.”
“Kevin stopped on the straightaway because we weren’t going to get our car tore up,” Martin said. “Then he brought his big brothers with him down to our stall to confront (Harvick) like it was some sort of home invasion.
“I don’t think it was intentional. It was just practice. We’ll be all right. The car was pretty good in practice, but the track is going to change so much. You just have to be ready for what‘s going to happen.”
Biffle’s crew chief, Matt Puccia, who accompanied his driver down to the No. 29 stall, described the on-track incident as “wrong place, wrong time.” As far as the exchange in the garage, Puccia said Biffle just wanted to clear the air.
“I think Harvick might have taken (the bump) the wrong way,” Puccia said. ”Tempers got a little heated and, unfortunately, we got in the middle of it. Greg went down there just to tell him it wasn’t intentional.”
Biffle’s lap of 95.266 mph was 20th fastest on the speed chart. Harvick, who won the spring race at Martinsville, posted a lap of 95.094 mph — 25th fastest.