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.”
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.