Last weekend at Richmond, it was the battle between Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya. This weekend at Darlington it was the battle of Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.
On lap 363, Harvick and Busch were racing on the backstretch when the two made contact. It’s hard to tell from the video footage whether Jamie McMurray got Harvick loose, forcing the contact. Harvick gave Busch a bump in the middle of the corner to show his displeasure.
On the frontstrech, Harvick and Busch were racing for position when Clint Bowyer got a monster run on the inside of them, making it three-wide coming off of Turn 4. Busch appeared to get a little loose on the outside of Harvick, and the two made slight contact.
The contact sent Harvick into the door of Bowyer, causing Bowyer to spin down the track and slam into the inside wall head-on.
Busch stayed against Harvick’s right rear quarter panel and came down the track. Harvick dove farther down to the inside, creating some separation from Busch. Then Busch wiggled a little and darted left into Harvick’s right-rear. Harvick spun into the outside wall, but was able to collect it and drive away.
Bowyer got the bad end of that deal, not able to finish the race because of the damage.
After the race ended, both cars were coming to pit road, one behind the other, when Busch darted off of pit road. Harvick followed him onto the track, and stopped next to him. Busch then put his car into reverse and tried to get away from Harvick. They both drove to pit road.
Harvick stopped in front of the 18 car on pit road. Harvick was ready for a fight. Harvick climbed out of his car and turned to walk to Busch’s car. To get away, Busch hit the gas pedal, pushing Harvick’s empty No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevy. Harvick reached into Busch’s car as he drives by and punched him in the helmet. Busch turned Harvick’s car into the pit road wall.
Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick were told to head straight to the NASCAR hauler after the race. Meanwhile in the garage, the No. 29 and No. 18 pit crews were having a heated discussion, separated by NASCAR officials. How convenient that the 18 and 29 haulers were parked close to each other in the garage.
When asked what was discussed in the NASCAR hauler, Harvick put on his signature happy face and said, “Not much.”
Last week with Newman and Montoya, NASCAR said that they would be “watching” them. No points penalties or probation were given, just a slap on the wrist. This is what NASCAR said would happen when they loosened the reigns. They were going to let the drivers “Have at it” and let the emotion flow freely.
In my opinion, “Have at it” can only go so far. Sure, let the boys throw a couple of punches; let their pit crews fight with each other. But when you use your car to wreck another driver’s empty car on pit road, that’s another story. I think NASCAR would agree with me when I say that is dangerous. There were many people on pit road, including Harvick, and someone could have been hurt. Sure, Busch was just trying to get away from the situation, but I don’t think that’s the way to do it.
On the track, wrecking each other is fair game. On pit road, that’s just stupid.
I guess NASCAR is getting what they asked for! I personally love seeing the emotion. I guess we’ll see what happens when we head to our next short track race at Dover International Speedway next weekend.