Late Friday afternoon, Kevin Harvick strolled along pit road at Michigan International Speedway towards his GM Goodwrench Chevrolet to get ready to qualify for Sunday's Michigan 400. His fire suit was unzipped to the waist revealing a Matt Kenseth...
Late Friday afternoon, Kevin Harvick strolled along pit road at Michigan International Speedway towards his GM Goodwrench Chevrolet to get ready to qualify for Sunday's Michigan 400. His fire suit was unzipped to the waist revealing a Matt Kenseth t-shirt.
Last Sunday in the closing laps of the Pocono 500, Harvick and Kenseth got together while battling for 10th place. On an ensuing caution - depending on which story you accept - Harvick bumped Kenseth or Kenseth hit the brakes and collected Harvick. Either way, Kenseth spun into the grass and then chased down Harvick to return the favor.
The drivers were summoned to the NASCAR trailer after the race and were each fined $25,000 and put on probation until August 11.
Harvick wore the t-shirt on Friday as a statement that Kenseth, the defending series champion, may have received the benefit of the doubt from NASCAR.
"He tries to be the nice guy and tries to say all the things he says," Harvick said in a media conference on Friday. "He is never wrong and he's the champ and he's going to think what he wants and that's what it is."
Harvick described video proof that was given to NASCAR that showed skid marks from Kenseth hitting the brakes causing Harvick to crash into the DeWalt Ford. Kenseth disputes the claim.
"I started slowing down and he came after me because he was mad we got together down the backstretch and I didn't get all the way out of the gas for him," Kenseth explained in a separate media conference on Friday. "I did not brake check him and spin myself out at 100 miles an hour under caution."
Harvick has been in trouble with NASCAR before. He was parked by the sanctioning body and forced to miss the Martinsville race in 2002 as punishment for rough driving in the Craftsman Truck Series. By his own account, Harvick has amassed $148,000 in fines in the past three years.
"The last year and a half or so, I've tried to be politically correct and do things the way that they're supposed to be done," Harvick said. "But in the end, it doesn't matter. You can be the nice guy, you can be the bad guy, you can be whatever you want. I'm going to go back and be myself. That's who I am."
Kenseth feels that last week's incident at Pocono continues a pattern of run-ins with the #29 car.
"There are times when you know it's a mistake and there are times when you know it's not," Kenseth said. "When you get spun under caution, it's certainly not a mistake. I thought that we both could have been more grown up and settled this thing a long time ago."
Despite their recent history, that also includes some hard feelings about a run-in in the Busch race at Dover, Kenseth says that Harvick will decide if the feud is over.
"I don't worry about one car out there," Kenseth explained. "If he races me clean, I'm gonna race him clean. I'm happy to call a truce and give everybody plenty of room to race. I have no problem with that, but I expect the same thing in return. I'm just gonna race him the way he wants to race me, so it's really up to him."
"I race hard and I race as hard as I can around everybody," Harvick replied. "He is of the mold of stop and point and pull over. I have to race hard. That's the way I was taught to race."