Busch, Harvick still at odds over Darlington
Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick discussed their ongoing disagreement Friday at Dover International Speedway — and showed that they continue to be on opposing ends of the spectrum.
The pair offered different interpretations of both their incidents at Darlington Raceway and NASCAR’s reaction to those.
Harvick, for his part, said drivers need a clearly defined line in terms of conduct on the track. He seemed a little surprised that none of the penalty issues stemmed from the on-track contact between the pair, but rather just the pit-road showdown after the race.
The pair started a confrontation on the track, one that ended when Busch hooked the rear of Harvick’s car and spun it into traffic late in the race. It continued on pit road, where Harvick stopped his car in front of Busch’s, climbed out and walked to his window for a confrontation. As Harvick leaned into Busch's car, Busch pulled forward and pushed Harvick’s then-empty car out of the way — and into the pit wall with people in the area.
The two talked with NASCAR officials after the incident, talked with them again at Dover, and then addressed the media. While Busch appeared to feel that the subsequent fines and probation issued Tuesday to each driver were appropriate — each was fined $25,000 and put on probation for five weeks — Harvick questioned the on-track incident.
Busch claimed that he had a tire going flat, which caused him to turn left and into Harvick’s car, causing the spin, a claim Harvick dismissed. Still, they did agree that racing clean in the coming races would be a priority based on the nature of their probations.
Harvick, though, said that it’s confusing how this is all working.
He said he understands the so-called boys-have-at-it policy is evolving in reaction to drivers' incidents, but that there is a lack of consistency there.
"When you go back and you look at the very first major incident that you saw on the racetrack, I guess it would be Carl (Edwards) and (Brad) Keselowski in Atlanta, and you saw the car go upside down," Harvick said. "Carl was parked for hooking him in the right rear quarter panel and then it happened again, and you see a lot of people coming out of the pits and retaliating; and sometimes it’s a one-lap penalty and sometimes you are parked for the race . . . so there’s a lot of different things happening."
He said that means that from a driver's standpoint, one doesn't "really 100 percent understand how it works."
For example, the penalties he and Busch were assessed were clearly for the postrace incidents, not the on-track contact. So that, he says, is somewhat confusing. So, too, he says is a driver who will act like that on the track and then be surprised that it leads to a confrontation off of it.
“I felt that Kyle (Busch) got into my door. I ran him down on the back straightaway. I got into him in (Turn) 3, and we got three wide," Harvick said. "Yesterday, Kyle’s explanation was he had a flat tire and hooked me on the straightaway. It’s kind of one lie after the other, and you see everything that happened after the race; and for me, the way that I was brought up and taught to race, when you hook somebody in the right-rear quarter panel, that’s the equivalent of throwing your gloves off in hockey.
“That’s the point where everybody has reached the boiling point, and basically the only answer I get out of Kyle is, 'I’m a race car driver, not a fighter.' But if you drive like that, you’re gonna have to learn how to take care of yourself. It’s just a lot that went through the mind, and for me it’s done and over with and we’ll move on."
Harvick says he wants there to be complete consistency in the rulings.
“I can race either way,” he said. “We can flip each other over. I don’t mind wrecking. I don’t mind getting wrecked. I don’t mind eye for an eye. I don’t mind any of that, but just tell me what the rules are. Explain to me what the penalty is if you are going to hook somebody in the middle of the straightaway, if you are going to spin them out, if you are going to retaliate, what is the penalty? Tell me what the penalty is. A consistent answer.”
Busch, however, seemed to see things more clearly.
To him, the barrier seems to be on the track versus off the track. He stayed in his car and did not engage with Harvick after the race Sunday, though his penalty came from pushing Harvick’s car with his own. Busch claims he had no reverse gear and, therefore, could not back up and go around Harvick’s car.
Either way, he feels confident he understands what are acceptable and unacceptable actions going forward.
“I understand it perfectly, actually,” he said. “It’s the ‘boys have at it’ that happens out on the racetrack, and it seems like they allow us to police ourselves pretty simply out there. When matters get taken into the drivers' hands or anything else onto pit road, where innocent bystanders can be injured or something, NASCAR is going to step in and they’re going to intervene, and they’re going to set penalties the way that they feel need to be levied.
“To me, it’s not a gray area, it’s pretty simple; it’s black and white. I’m not focused in all that really or what penalties should be during what circumstances because I’m a racer, and I know that going out there on the racetrack and trying to win is the utmost thing. If you do that, then you certainly shouldn’t be getting in any brawls or anything like that.”