Most of the drama already had occurred, however, by the time Harvick took the checkered flag for his fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win in nine starts this season, and one of the central figures in the action was Ron Hornaday Jr., who drives Harvick’s No. 33 Chevy.
Harvick powered across the finish line .294 seconds ahead of runner-up Austin Dillon, who extended his lead in the series standings to 20 points over second-place Johnny Sauter. Dillon’s brother, Ty Dillon, ran third, followed by Nelson Piquet Jr. and Matt Crafton.
James Buescher ran out of fuel under caution with three laps left, fell from second position to 18th and saw his title hopes all but evaporate with a 19th-place finish.
Long before Harvick collected his 13th victory in the series, NASCAR parked Kyle Busch for the rest of the race after a Lap 14 incident that started with Busch and Hornaday racing hard side by side and ended with Busch knocking Hornaday into the Turn 4 wall and out of the series championship battle.
Hornaday slid up into Busch as the drivers approached the slower truck of Johnny Chapman, and after the contact, Busch and Hornaday scraped the outside wall. Busch pursued Hornaday into Turn 4 and turned him hard into the outside wall.
“This is just stupid,” Hornaday fumed after the wreck. “He knew what I was going for. He knew I was there. He had to lift, too. If I’d have lifted, I would have hit the back of that slower truck and it would have caused a big wreck.
“He just drove me in the fence and ruined a pretty good racecar.”
Busch was unapologetic.
“If you consider that Ron was in the championship, maybe Ron could have played it a little bit smarter on (Lap 14) and checked up a little bit and given room to everybody around,” Busch said. “Obviously, if you make it a three-wide situation, I can’t go up in the dirt.
“I’m already on the outside lane. There’s not three lanes out there right now. … If I just lay over and give up everything for Ron Hornaday, that’s not Kyle Busch’s fashion. I’m out here to win the race as much as anybody else is. When he races up on my inside, gets loose and takes me up to the fence, I ended up losing my cool.
“I’ve been wrecked four weeks in a row, and finally I just had enough of it. I’m sorry it was Ron Hornaday. He’s going for a championship, but the fact of the matter is you can’t place all the blame on one person. There was two people that got into it to begin with, and there was two people that ended it.”
NASCAR officials met with Busch and Kyle Busch Motorsports general manager Rick Ren for three minutes after the race. Another meeting is planned for Saturday morning, likely before the first scheduled Sprint Cup practice at 9:45 a.m. ET.
“We met with Kyle, and we’re going to revisit with him in the morning,” NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Tharp said.
Hornaday also visited the NASCAR hauler after the race to express his opinion.
“The last five races before that, we gave each other room,” Hornaday said before he met with NASCAR officials. “He caught me—I let him go. I caught him—he let me go. All of a sudden, why did it change? I don’t know. I didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed. He did.
“He’s got to be parked. They did it to Harvick at Martinsville (in 2002, while Harvick already was on probation). If they don’t park him for the Cup race and the Nationwide race …”
To Hornaday, the circumstances were markedly different from Carl Edwards’ retaliation against Brad Keselowski in a Cup race at Atlanta last year, an incident that earned Edwards a three-race probation.
“This was a whole different points deal,” Hornaday said. “This was a yellow flag, (turned) when you’re not prepared and your heart’s not pumping and you’re going down the back straightaway, and all of a sudden you get turned directly into the fence.
“He lives too close to me. We’ll see what NASCAR does, and if they don’t handle it right, I’ll be at his house Monday morning.”
Harvick, who has been warned to stay away from Busch after both served probation for a postrace confrontation at Darlington in May, shared Hornaday’s sentiment.
“He’s going to grow up, or he’s going to have some swollen eyes,” Harvick said.
Notes: The victory gave Kevin Harvick Inc. the owners championship. … Austin Dillon can clinch the drivers title with a finish of 16th or better in the season finale at Homestead. … Harvick led a race-high 61 of the 148 laps. Buescher led 56 laps. … Ty Dillon, 19, was making his second truck start. He finished 18th last month at Kentucky in his debut.