Before I get this out there, here’s a little disclaimer: I am, have been, and will forever be, the world’s biggest Kevin Harvick fan. Nothing that you say or do will ever change that. Want some proof? Here’s some. So you would probably guess that I am about to defend Harvick’s actions this past weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, and you’d be correct.
However, I’m also a NASCAR fan, and I know what’s wrong and what’s right. We won’t ever know if Harvick crashed into Trevor Bayne on purpose, causing a multi-car pileup seconds after the field took the green flag to restart the race to bring out the caution and end the race. The only person who will ever know if it was intentional is the defending champion, himself. But here’s my take on the whole situation.
I do indeed believe that Harvick intentionally wrecked the No. 6 car of Bayne to manipulate the outcome of the race to benefit himself (ended up advancing to the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup). And that is coming from his No. 1 supporter, through thick and thin.
Would anybody want to intentionally (or unintentionally) crash another car, purring safety at risk, money down the drain and see the ending to a fantastic race go up in smoke? I don’t believe so.
However, to every situation there are multiple points of view, so let’s look at some of them.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Point of View:
He is running second and needs to win the race in order to advance to the next round. He has overcome a pit road penalty, passed more cars than anybody on the track and if the caution were to have not come out, he more than likely would have won the race and advanced to the next round of the Chase.
Trevor Bayne’s Point of View:
He is running right behind Harvick (who had a troubled engine, you can read what went down here) and has an obligation to his sponsors, fans and team to pass as many cars as possible to get the best finish. He goes to Harvick’s outside to try and get by him, when he is all of a sudden clipped by the No. 4 car, ending his afternoon and ruining his car, suffering a lot of damage.
Denny Hamlin’s Point of View:
He has had top-five finishes both races of this round and just needs to “survive and advance” to make it to the next round. His day hasn’t gone exactly as planned, but he is in a position to advance. He is all of a sudden caught up in a crash (triggered by Harvick’s move) and he is eliminated from the Chase.
Kevin Harvick’s Point of View:
He needs to stay where he is to advance to the next round. He, as well as all the other drivers, has obligations to his team, sponsors, fans and much more. He can either 1) drift up a lane to the outside and let everybody drive by him with ease, being eliminated, or 2) stay where he is, hope for a crash (or in this case, the popular belief was that he caused one), bringing the caution out and he advances to the next round, and is still in pursuit of his second career championship.
What would you do in Harvick’s position? Give up, or fight?Here is what the man at the center of controversy had to say for himself after the race.
“I think if you’re at race 13 and you’re in a situation like that, you probably pull in the pits,” Harvick said. “If you’re in a cutoff race at Talladega, you have to play the restart out. I mean, you have to try. If it falls on its face or you crash or whatever the case may be, then you still have that little glimmer of hope, and that’s your season. That’s it.”
“I don’t need to defend myself,” Harvick went on to say. “Here’s the deal: If those guys were in the same situation and their car would still function, it’s like a football player. If his knee’s blown out and he’s playing in the Super Bowl, he’s going to play as long as he can. We maintained the speed on the caution. If all the circumstances would have been different, it might’ve had a different outcome. Those guys have been throwing stones all year, so you just go on with it.
“I quit once in my life, and I’ll never quit again.”
Do I agree with what Harvick did? That’s a tough question.
But do I understand why he did it? Absolutely. If I was in his position, I would do the same thing. If any other competitor in any sport was in his position, they would do same thing too.
I mentioned in the latest episode of the Victory Lane podcast that if this were Earnhardt Jr. or Jeff Gordon, people would be on their hands and knees bowing down and applauding their efforts. Anybody else, including Harvick, who has developed a persona of a villain, they would treat with disrespect and say he should be penalized.
Here’s the bottom line: Harvick did what he had to do to put himself in the best position to win a championship. If Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook looked a Buckeyes defender in the eyes, and threw him the ball with 10 seconds left in a tie game, letting Ohio State win the game with a shot at the Big Ten Championship on the line, you would think to yourself, “what in the world is he doing?”
So don’t knock Harvick for doing what he needed to do, and not worrying about anybody else because this is the same situation, with the same circumstances, and you would do the same exact thing.