May 08, 2011
As both drivers played a game of chicken inside of their cars, Harvick finally climbed out first and walked back towards Busch's car. As Harvick approached Busch's driver side window, he threw a punch inside the cockpit as Busch accelerated away from Harvick. However, Busch was so close behind Harvick that as he drove away, he (purposefully?) ran into the back of Harvick's car, sending it into the pit road wall.
What sparked the confrontation? Harvick got into Busch's back bumper in Turns 1 and 2 with four laps to go after a late-race restart. The two drivers ended up three-wide with Clint Bowyer as they entered the backstretch, resulting in Bowyer smashing into the inside wall. As the caution flag flew and Busch and Harvick were further down the backstretch, Busch turned into Harvick, spinning his black No. 29.
"It was just uncalled for, unacceptable racing," Busch said after the race, while Harvick might have one-upped him in the Cheshire cat department in his post-race TV interview.
"We were just racing hard and things happen," Harvick said.
It wasn't the two's first run-in.
At Homestead in last year's finale, Harvick said that he "parked" Busch when the two made contact. When asked about that incident during Speedweeks before the 2011 season started, Busch had this to say:
"You'd like to say you can wipe the slate clean, but when you go from a shot to finishing fourth in points to finishing eighth in points, that's an awful lot of money, and an awful lot of money for the race team," Busch said. "Do I care whether or not I have a grudge against Harvick? No. Do I feel like I need to do something about it? No. If something happens [involving Harvick] where it won't hurt me ... whoops."
(Yes, that "whoops" was sarcastic.)
But back to the "fight" that happened on Saturday night in Darlington. Where do we begin about the breaches of mano v. mano confrontations in this latest tussle? Both drivers originally pulled to the side of pit road instead of onto it like normal post-race prodedure. After a staredown and what looked to be thoughts of "So are we going to play demolition derby?" the two finally turned around and got on pit road.
As two of Harvick's crew members ran towards the cars, Harvick faked like he was getting out of the cockpit to see if Busch behind him would bite. He didn't, so Harvick got out first, and walked over to Busch's car with his helmet still on, a la Jeff Gordon when he confronted Matt Kenseth at Bristol. (You'll notice that Gordon had brushed up on his customs when he helmetlessly confronted Jeff Burton last year at Texas.)
Then there was Busch, who stayed in his car with his window net up, knowing that Harvick was going to say or do something. (Note: Harvick does not have a size advantage over Busch.) While the move to drive off and leave Harvick in the dust may have been Roadrunner-brilliant on paper, Harvick still made contact with something in the cockpit of Busch's car. And most importantly -- and dangerously -- the contact that Busch made with Harvick's car could have seriously injured a bystander on pit road no matter how hilarious the incident looked.
Yes, Busch probably didn't realize that Harvick left the car in neutral or that crew member on Paul Menard's team had literally gotten run over earlier in the evening, but pit road is a dangerous place and even if Harvick's car wouldn't have started rolling, someone could have gotten hurt.
Both Busch and Harvick were summoned to the NASCAR hauler after the race, the second time in two days that a pair of drivers had been called to the principal's office for their on-track actions. On Friday, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman met with NASCAR officials in a meeting that NASCAR said "didn't go as well as we had hoped."
Will this be the Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski feud of 2010 that reignites later in the season? As he walked away from the cameras after emerging from the NASCAR hauler, Harvick shrugged his shoulders and said, "I really don't have anything to tell you, you saw the end."
No, Kevin, we probably haven't seen the end of this.
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