Aug. 31 (UPI) — Kevin Harvick has been involved in several driver-on-driver dust-ups during his racing career, but says “it’s hard to carry a grudge” in NASCAR.
“I think a lot of that comes down, no offense, to the media, to social media,” Harvick told UPI.
Harvick, 43, will debut a new Busch X Big Buck Hunter paint scheme on his No. 4 Ford at the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Bojangles Southern 500 at 6 p.m. EDT Sunday at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C.
While this season has been somewhat tame when it comes to punch-for-punch exchanges between drivers, the past few seasons have seen a number of scuffles. Those heated confrontations often follow violations of driver etiquette on the track or one driver trying to take another out of a race by wrecking their car into an opponent’s car.
In May, Clint Boyer ran to Ryan Newman‘s car and delivered a series of punches into his window. Harvick has been involved in scuffles with Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch, among others, throughout his career. He once hurdled a car to get to Biffle for a post-race dust-up.
Sunday’s setting is the same place where Harvick reached into Busch’s car for a shove after a wreck in 2011.
Harvick sits in fifth place in the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup standings entering this weekend’s race. He has two wins and seven top-five finishes this season. He said it’s harder now than it was 20 years ago to carry a grudge because of the way it impacts racing teams from a frustration and distraction standpoint.
“There’s just more people who know each other,” Harvick said. “For us, it’s harder to carry a grudge in the garage today than it was 20 years ago just because if there’s a major beef going on, it’s a major hassle and it affects your team and it affects the things that you do.
“Everybody knows that, so it’s best to just move on, have a short memory. … Whether it’s a good weekend or a bad weekend, a good moment or a bad moment, and you move on with it.”
Harvick said part of the difficulty of grudge-carrying is being able to function and not spend a morning answering questions about fighting with other drivers.
In addition to his new paint scheme, the Big Buck Hunter arcade video game also is conducting a contest on its website. Purchasers of Busch Big Buck Hunter permits can swipe those permits at any of the machine’s nationwide to unlock a “Great White Buck” level. Players who shoot the white buck have a chance to win a console. The contest also is available on packs of Busch.
Racing Keelan and the direction of Stewart-Haas Racing
Harvick frequently posts videos and photos of son Keelan racing go-karts and attending his races. But don’t expect to see the father-son duo to ever share the NASCAR stage like the Earnhardts or Pettys.
Harvick said he races against the 7-year-old on the go-kart circuit. Keelan thinks it’s a possibility, but his dad doesn’t.
“That’s something that in his little mind, he thinks is a possibility, but from a time perspective, there is really no way for me to be in the race car by the time he might get that opportunity at that age,” Harvick said. “It’s fun to be able to talk and communicate about something I know, well, you never know everything, but to be able chat with him.
“He is 7. You hear what he asks and I’ll say, ‘Say that one more time bud? I heard what you are asking me, but I’m not sure I expected you to ask that.’ But it’s been a lot of fun to go out and fun with racing.”
As for the future of Harvick’s No. 4, the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion says his car has improved since the start of the season in February. Harvick said his team wasn’t leading laps or capitalizing on chances to win races earlier in the season, but Stewart-Haas Racing has done a good job in turning around its cars to get their performance headed in the right direction.
“Our team has done a great job and hopefully as we go into the playoffs, we continue with our evolution and progress of making the cars better week to week and hopefully the things we planned for the playoffs and the builds of the cars and everything we show up with is better than what we had because as you get into the playoffs, everyone plans on being better,” Harvick said.
“We have that same plan and hopefully the performance is where we want it to be and we can figure out how to race for a championship over the last 10 weeks.”
The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway following the stop in Darlington for the Big Machine Vodka 400. That race is Sept. 8 in Indianapolis. Sunday’s Bojangles Southern 500 will air on the NBC Sports Network.