Kevin Harvick's comments in the aftermath of last weekend's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway stung, Austin Dillon said Wednesday, and the comments went a little deeper than the heat-of-the moment exchanges that sometimes occur following an on-track altercation.
"Growing up in the family with RCR and knowing what goes on here on a daily basis, it hurt my feelings," Dillon said. "But I forgive Kevin. Kevin's taught me a lot; he's done a lot for our company and stepped in at a tough time for RCR. He's kept us at the forefront of NASCAR.
"With my grandfather's help he was able to do that. My grandfather gave him that opportunity."
Richard Childress Racing, owned by Childress, fields NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams for Harvick, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard. It also fields teams in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. Dillon, a former Truck Series champion, currently leads the Nationwide points standings while younger brother Ty Dillon is third in the Truck Series battle. Mike Dillon, Austin and Ty's father, is the vice president of competition at RCR and is Childress' son-in-law.
Harvick, fourth in the Sprint Cup standings, and Ty Dillon were battling for second place in the closing laps of the Kroger 200 when contact from Dillon in Turns 1 and 2 sent Harvick's truck spinning. Dillon wrecked as well, and points leader Matt Crafton was also caught up in the accident.
Under caution, Harvick turned down into Dillon's truck; Dillon retaliated by driving into the back of the Harvick entry as they made their way back to pit road. "The 3 (of Dillon) just dumped me," Harvick said after exiting his truck. "Exactly the reason I'm leaving RCR because you've got those kids coming up and they've got no respect for what they do in this sport and they've had everything fed to them with a spoon. ? It's a shame you've got to get taken out by some rich kid like that."
Harvick apologized the following day, telling FOX Sports 1 "sometimes you regret the things that you say for sure.
"Yesterday was definitely one of them," Harvick, a 22-time winner in Cup, said. "I hate it for my guys, and everybody working on the cars. Obviously, when those emotional situations come about, you say things that you really don't want to say. I just want to apologize to all of those guys."
Austin Dillon said he felt he and Harvick had a good relationship, and that he had been looking forward to racing with the veteran in 2014 when he makes the move up to Sprint Cup. He was disappointed, he said, when Harvick announced late in 2012 that he would leave RCR to join Stewart-Haas Racing next season.
Harvick, who made his Cup debut with RCR in 2001 following the death of seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, will drive the No. 4 entry for team co-owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas.
"I felt going into next year I would have a teammate that I could really lean on and learn from and work together with," Dillon said. "Then the announcement comes out that he's going to Stewart-Haas and it was pretty much a bummer.
"I went into this year trying to learn as much as I could from him because I had one more year with him and use that to my advantage. ? For him to say the things he did about why he is leaving, it didn't feel good."
Dillon said his grandfather provided the opportunity for him and his brother to pursue racing careers, but it has been up to each of them to take advantage of the situation. He said he and his younger brother have been fortunate, "but we've done a good job using what has been put in front of us."
Such accusations of preferential treatment, he said, aren't new, saying "I've seen it so many times over the years. I don't know what else you have to do to go out there and prove things.
"I try to not judge a book by its cover -- I've always been taught that by my family. Never judge someone by the way they look, the way they act or anything. ? That's how I was brought up and I've been very fortunate to have a family that taught me that. ? It doesn't matter who you are or what opportunity you have ? you've still got to go out there and perform.
"If I couldn't do this, I would have probably shut myself down a long time ago and tried to do something else to be successful. I'm confident with where I'm at as a person and where I'm at with my career. I don't have to bad-mouth things or do anything to prove myself. If I go out there and (be myself) each and every weekend and not worry about others, that will hopefully be enough for whoever it needs to be enough for -- and that's me and my family."
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