Kevin Harvick knows where Bowyer, his bosses were coming from

Posted Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
More information Series updates Sprint Cup First of a kind: Furniture Row Racing, behind driver Kurt Busch, is the first single-car organization to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The last single-car team to win the championship was Alan Kulwicki’s in 1992. Momentum driver: Joey Logano scored more points over the final seven races before the Chase than any other driver. He had 264 points in that stretch, which included six top-10s. No. 10: Justin Allgaier will drive the No. 51 this weekend, making his Sprint Cup debut. He’s the 10th driver to start in the 51 for Phoenix Racing this year. Nationwide Junior riding: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is making his fourth and final series start of the year. The two-time series champion has only one other Nationwide start in Chicago, when he finished 15th in 2006. Camping World Truck Buescher surging: James Buescher won his first race of the year last weekend, and he’s up to second in the driver standings. This week, it’s on to Chicago, where he won last year en route to his series championship. Cuppers: Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch are entered in the trucks race at Chicago. Busch has two trucks wins at Chicagoland. NHRA Now No. 1: A year after not making the Countdown to the Championship, Matt Hagan enters the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in Funny Car and winner of four races. Sponsorship: Pro Stock competitor Erica Enders-Stevens secured sponsorship from Husky Liners in time to continue racing. 21 Consecutive seasons with a pole position for Jeff Gordon, the NASCAR record. He won the pole last week at Richmond. Quotable “No, I wouldn’t say it’s a very good predictor. … There are a lot of different variables from drivers to racetracks to situations on pit road. How all of that is going to work out through the Chase is going to determine a champion. We see it every year.” — Kyle Busch, on the impact of performance in the races leading up to the Chase

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Like every other driver, Kevin Harvick wants to win every race he can, and do whatever he can to win.

But every driver has a boss, and if the boss says something … well, you get the potential for what happened in NASCAR last weekend in Richmond, when apparently Clint Bowyer was ordered to cause a caution that knocked Ryan Newman from the lead and got teammate Martin Truex Jr. enough points to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff field.

“That’s the hard part as a driver,” Harvick said. “You go out on a racetrack and you drive the car as hard as you can drive it. Obviously, in this particular instance, management decided what the teams needed to be [doing], and as a driver, they are your superiors, to tell you to do what you need to do for the race team.”

NASCAR decided the sport’s integrity was at stake, and it removed Truex from the playoff field and replaced him with Newman, who would have made the field had he won at Richmond.

Harvick, speaking at Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday to both promote the Chase and help the track mark the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks with a recognition ceremony for first responders, said NASCAR made the right call.

“In sports, everybody wants to do what they have to do to win. The sanctioning body has to keep us all in check to make sure that we follow the rules,” he said. “And nobody’s ever going to agree what the fines should or shouldn’t be.

“You can argue it 100 different ways. It’s tough, and sports is tough in general, because all of us as competitors want to do what we have to do to win.”

For Harvick, NASCAR’s ruling was about protecting its integrity.

From that perspective, he can relate.

He has been thinking about his own integrity as he races in his last year with Richard Childress Racing. He and the organization are parting ways after the season so Harvick can join Stewart-Haas Racing.

The move was an open secret last year, finally made clear in November when Harvick and Childress “laid it on the table,” Harvick said.

“I knew there was going to be a lot of emotion involved as I had to go in and tell Richard, and I wanted to do that face to face. But Richard’s always been good to me and been very honest with me, and I’ve been very honest with him. I feel like that’s probably one of the biggest reasons that we’ve been able to get through this year so well is the fact that we’re both upfront with each other.

“Whether I didn’t like or he didn’t like it, that was the way it was going to be. So there was no reason to make it any worse than it needed to be. Just needed to go out and do our jobs.”

Harvick has landed in the Chase, the fourth seed and with six bonus points thanks to two wins. It is a good reflection on his integrity.

“Well, I think it reflected on both of us,” he said. “We’re both equally responsible for putting our best foot forward to have a good year.

“I mean, in my opinion, I think everybody was kind of writing us off, and it was important to us to live up to what we told the sponsors and the people around us — that we were going to make something happen.

“So everybody’s done good. There’s been a lot of people in this situation before that haven’t been able to handle it as well as we’ve handled it. And I’m proud of that.”

DRIFT time

The Formula DRIFT car championship is at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Qualifying is at 2 p.m. Friday, and the race is at 2 p.m. Saturday.

It’s the first time TMS has hosted the Formula DRIFT championship. The 10-year-old series tests the drivers’ ability to control the vehicle through a series of turns.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @calexmendez

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