Kevin Harvick’s Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup did not get off to a great start Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
After starting the day near the rear of the field in 33rd spot, Harvick had successfully worked his way into the top 10 with a fast No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.
However, Harvick’s day took a turn for the worse when Harvick was turned around by Matt Kenseth after a restart on Lap 227 of 500 while running in the sixth spot.
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As the field headed into Turn 1, Kenseth’s No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota wheel-hopped and slid into the left rear of Harvick’s car. The contact sent both cars spinning, with Harvick slamming into the outside wall with the left side.
Sustaining significant damage, Harvick pulled his car behind the wall as a host of Stewart-Haas Racing crew members went to work making repairs and cutting off the fenders. As a result, Harvick was listed in 37th of 43 cars.
Kenseth suffered only slight damage and was able to remain on the lead lap. He restarted the race in 28th on Lap 239.
After the team made extensive repairs, including removing the entire nose section of the car, Harvick rejoined the field on Lap 269 but had fallen to 40th, 42 laps down to the lead when the race hit the 300-lap mark.
Harvick would finish the day 33rd, while Kenseth made his way back to sixth by the time Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored the win.
Once out of the car after the race, Harvick was not happy about being taken out at the front of the field and vowed to keep Kenseth from being the champion if he cannot.
"The good thing about this format is you have two more weeks and two race tracks that we can win on," said Harvick. "Everybody was so worried about us starting in the back and we wrecked at the front. Unfortunate.
"Yeah, he won’t win this championship," Harvick said of Kenseth. "If we don’t, he won’t."
Kenseth said he understood Harvick’s harsh words, but chalked it up to a mistake behind the wheel, not anything intentional.
"I don’t blame him for feeling that way honestly," said Kenseth. "It was a mistake — he was an innocent bystander and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I totally understand how he feels and I totally understand why he would say that. I totally get it. He knows it was a mistake too, but that doesn’t really help him. I don’t really blame him. He got taken out of the race for being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
VIDEO: Kevin Harvick upset with Matt Kenseth after wreck