Respect among rivals: Mind games won't work with these four

Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex did not engage in physiological warfare during the Championship 4 press conference.

All four drivers were calm, cool and collected as they fielded questions from media at The Diplomat Convention Center in Miami Thursday. The lack of proverbial shots being fired even led to a direct question about mind games and their place this weekend.

In the presence of an icon

"I think it's his fault," Kevin Harvick laughed, pointing in the direction of Jeff Gordon. "We're going to blame it on him. It's a little bit different, I think, just for the fact that I know we all want to win. We all want to have a championship.

"But in the end, you don't want to be the guy that was disrespectful at Jeff Gordon's last press conference or say something that's just a total jackass move."

"God, I hope he's thinking like that on Sunday, too," Gordon quickly responded. 

Harvick then elaborated, citing that it was a sign of the amount of respect all four have for one another and how they got to the final four. 

If there's a weakness that playing mind games can give you an edge, then I think that you would go that route. I don't know if that works with these four ...  I think that just shows you the respect level on the stage

Jeff Gordon

In 2014, Harvick targeted Joey Logano during the Championship 4 press conference and in Chicago earlier this year, he responded to the summer success of JGR by saying he would "pound them into the ground.

"Certainly Kevin is good at it," admitted the four-time series champion. "You know, he's got a good sarcastic sense of humor that plays out well and plays to his favor a lot of times.  So yeah, I'm a little bit surprised. But at the same time, I think that just shows you the respect level on the stage and that we all want to go out and just race for it on Sunday."

The mere presence of a driver such as Gordon likely had a hand in the overall conduct. In 2014, all four drivers were fighting for their first title and there was already bad blood between some of them. Even if a driver felt so inclined to engage in mind games, it would be to no avail to when it involves this particular quartet.

You can't rattle these four, even if you wanted to

As Gordon later explained, it just wouldn't be logical to needle any of these four racers in contention for the Cup this time around.

"If you think that your competitors, if there's a weakness that playing mind games can give you an edge, then I think that you would go that route. I don't know if that works with these four. Some years that might work. Other years it might not."

In 2014, Harvick targeted Joey Logano during the Championship 4 press conference and in Chicago earlier this year, he responded to the summer success of JGR by saying he would "pound them into the ground.

"Certainly Kevin is good at it," admitted the four-time series champion. "You know, he's got a good sarcastic sense of humor that plays out well and plays to his favor a lot of times.  So yeah, I'm a little bit surprised. But at the same time, I think that just shows you the respect level on the stage and that we all want to go out and just race for it on Sunday."

On-track etiquette - Wrecking to win?

The respect goes beyond the cameras too. On the track, there is a line that each competitor is not willing to cross when it comes down to winning the Sprint Cup championship.

"I don't think anyone is just going to go out there and wreck someone to try to get the championship, at least that's not the way I would do it. For me, it really doesn't change from the way I race every week," said Martin Truex Jr.

"I think it also depends on your interaction with those drivers. I mean, I don't think that any of us currently have any beefs among one another, and we have a lot of respect for one another," Gordon added. "Yeah, you might be the champion, but it's still going to be -- have sort of a shadow over it." 

"You're going to do what you need to do to win the race and win the championship if that's what it takes, but nobody wants to go out and wreck a person for that win. Rubbing is a little bit different."

Curiously, Kyle Busch opted not to comment on the subject of wrecking others in order to win.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Event Homestead
Track Homestead-Miami Speedway
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Martin Truex Jr. , Kyle Busch
Article type Breaking news