NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Zach’s Turn: Time to Start Holding Kevin Harvick Accountable

Kevin Harvick is one of an elite few at the top of his era in the NASCAR Cup Series, but nothing on Harvick’s resume absolves the 2014 champion of accountability.

Why, then, are we so quick to dismiss his wrongdoings over the years?

Sure, this column is inspired by the events that took place Sunday (Oct. 10) at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL that saw Harvick flat dump Chase Elliott in an attempt to pay back the defending series champion for the events that took place a few weeks ago at Bristol Motor Speedway.

And yes, the universe took care of Harvick’s playoff hopes so Elliott didn’t have to.

But this is a trend from Harvick that is nothing new — acting as if he’s invincible when taking matters into his own hands.

After the Bristol scuffle, which hit a fever pitch after Elliott blocked Harvick out of the win following Harvick’s aggressive move that cut Elliott’s tire in a battle for the lead, a litany of articles were brought up discussing Harvick’s checkered past, usually focusing on his early 2000s fights with now-retired drivers like Greg Biffle and Ricky Rudd.

See also
Up to Speed: Mind Games for Chase Elliott & Kevin Harvick at the ROVAL

Let’s revisit some of his more recent antics, which certainly feel a lot more manipulative than dirty and start from perhaps the most egregious moment in the playoff era outside of Spingate.

Yes, the 2015 fall race at Talladega Superspeedway — ironically, another elimination race in the Round of 12, just like the ROVAL was this year.

With a transmission issue on what looked to be the final restart of the race, Harvick pulled to the right and got out of dodge as the field came to the green flag. But a Jimmie Johnson spin before the race restarted allowed Harvick to maintain his 12th-place position.

Harvick maintained his spot in line this time, forcing traffic behind him to swerve to avoid him. That was all well and good until Harvick swung right into Trevor Bayne to trigger a multi-car crash and race-ending caution, allowing Harvick to finish 15th and advance into the next round of the playoffs.

The move seemed blatant to some, but not to everyone.

“Obviously, there’s some of the teams that have questioned what the [No.] 4 car did on the restarts,” NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton said that day. “We went back and walked through with them, but procedurally from NASCAR, we don’t see anything there that is of suspect so far.”

Years went by and the incident seemed to vanish into the NASCAR ether. That was until its memory came rushing back at Martinsville Speedway in 2020.

Harvick, who dominated the year with nine wins alongside Denny Hamlin’s eight victories, found himself in pure desperation mode on the final lap of the season’s penultimate race, realizing he was on the outside of the cut line looking in.

That desperation drove Harvick to spin Kyle Busch in an attempt to gain the final necessary point to advance. The problem was Harvick wrecked himself worse and backed into the inside wall while the field rolled past, leaving Harvick out of the Championship 4.

Perhaps it was karmic that Harvick missed the next round after such a desperate move. Maybe it was instead a lesson learned that the dirty move may not be worth it next time.

As evidenced by the ROVAL, not quite.

Still fuming from the aftermath at Bristol, in which Elliott denied Harvick his first victory in a full season, the wily veteran exacted his payback on lap 56, where he accelerated into the back of the No. 9 car exiting turn 7 and sent Elliott hard into the outside wall, destroying the rear before Elliott crashed with Cole Custer, Harvick’s teammate.

See also
Horsepower, Spoiler Package Revealed for Most of 2022 Cup Season

Karma — and perhaps paranoia — won out again. Elliott’s team did a marvelous job to repair the vehicle just enough to remain competitive and Elliott drove through the field, still trying to advance to the Round of 8.

Another motivating factor? Dumping Harvick.

Except … he never got the chance.

On lap 100, just as Elliott neared Harvick for the first time since the incident, Harvick peeked in his mirror entering turn 1 and overcooked the corner, driving head-on into the outside wall, wrecking himself out of both the race and the playoffs.

Dirty driving begets little success in return.

I understand Elliott is not innocent in this particular scenario. However, Harvick’s past follows him in the twilight of his career.

He remains one of the best drivers in today’s Cup Series. That doesn’t negate the high standard he should be held to as a champion of the sport.

“Sometimes, real life teaches you good lessons,” Harvick told NBC Sports following his early exit in reference to whether his contact with Elliott was payback.

Perhaps the lesson here is this: Elliott rallied back into the playoffs while Harvick’s hopes for a 2021 title are officially over.

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Echo

Harvick will always be a punk

Sally Baker

Harvick keeps complaining that Chase kept him from the win by ‘slowing him down’. If he was so fast, why didn’t he must pass Chase? There is more than one lane on that track, and he can only blame himself for not having the car to get by the #9. Chase didn’t wreck him, didn’t even bump and run him. Desperate measures. Karma was in full force on Sunday.

JD in NC

True, Elliott was just doing to Harvick what Ryan Newman has always done to everyone, taking away their racing line, and making himself hard to pass.

Iceman202290

On fresh tires (Elliott was faster, literally drove from way back and passed the leaders…)

Hard as it is to pass at Bristol on the bottom when on even tires – impossible to pass on the bottom with older tires than the guy on the outside line. I really wish they would undue the progressive banking.

Do people even watch the races? Or just the highlights?

Bill B

About time someone called out Harvick. He has been a poor sport since he entered the series. He acts like a tough guy but I’ve never seen him actually throw down. His days in the series are numbered and his best years are behind him, so hopefully we won’t have to put up with his poor sportsmanship much longer. Good riddance and I hope you never visit victory lane again you douche.

Carl D.

Ditto. Ever since Harvick started the melee in Texas a few years back by shoving Kes from behind, I’ve thought of Kevin as the Scott Farkus of NASCAR. Fans of “A Christmas Story“ all know how things worked out for Scott. I wonder how many times the word “Karma” has been used since Sunday by the NASCAR media….

Barry

You know why you have never seen him throw down as you said, is like Joey Logano said, we know who wears the fire suit in the house. LOL !!

Becky

You remember when they use to wear matching fire suits lol

Tom B

Kevin punched Kyle Busch through his window. Kyle then pushed Kevin’s abandoned car out of his way. Kyle was deemed the bad guy in that incident.

Iceman202290

I remember that too, its cause Harvick calls any young kid who enters the sport some little rich kid who can’t drive and at that time, fans would buy it (see Kyle, Joey, Austin, etc). Also around the same time (don’t recall before or after) was when KB wrecked one of Harvicks trucks under caution, but yea. A lot of history there between those two.

Iceman202290

He has had a lot of run ins through his career both on and off the track.

John Dawg Chapman

The good news at least for me, is that we might not have Harvick to kick around much longer. I remember a quote from a successful driver, might have been Mark Martin, or Rusty, “that you never know when the last win, really is the last one.” That point seems to come like flipping a switch. Look at Jimmy Johnson. I don’t see Harvick winning in the few races remaining. So look for next season to be a pivotal year career wise.

Pete L

Kevin won’t retire until his wife says he can.

ArkyBass

Harvick’s a competitor and that is what it takes to be successful in this sport. However, I can relate to the ‘he’s always been a punk’ comment.

I do respect him as a driver. Watched 2000 Bush race in Memphis, Harvick got a lap down for jumping a restart and put on a show coming back thru the field and winning in the AC Delco RCR car.

sap

Really? Referring to a race that happened 21 years ago. Wow, you really need to quit eating those ‘member berries.

Fed Up

Another SUBWAY loser like Rapinoe.

Donald N. Mei

He has a unique habit of keeping his helmet on when confronting other unhelmeted drivers for real or perceived wrongs. Yes, hes good but definitely a bit of an a’hole.

Tom B

You should always keep your helmet on. Beware of tire irons.

Jeremy

NASCAR NEEDS hot-headed guys like Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, even Joey Logano to keep things interesting. In any good story you need a villain. If all of these guys were perfect little Jeff Gordons and Mark Martins, always making rational decisions and never intentionally ruffling a fender or making an off remark to a reporter, it would be so boring. Think of how many jobs would be lost! There would be no need for sports reporters because the final finishing order would tell the whole story!

It’s good people dislike (maybe even hate) Kyle and Kevin. etc. It’s even better when Kyle and Kevin do stupid stuff and stoke the ire. Better yet when they win, because that makes those who dislike them madder than any tirade they’ve ever thrown has.

Kevin in SoCal

Yes, exactly. Fans complain that all the drivers are vanilla like Jimmie Johnson was, and yet when a brash hot-head comes along, they complain about that too. Yes Kevin Harvick has done some stupid things in the past, but he’s still my favorite driver right now, because of that attitude he has.

Bill B

I agree with the overall sentiment of your point, but there also needs to be someone to reel them in when they go to far.
We’re just at odds with where the line should be.

Last edited 14 days ago by Bill B
Jeremy

I think that’s difficult considering the precedent that was set during the Dale Earnhardt Sr. era.

Sally Baker

Entirely different time and place. No comparison.

Jeremy

I wonder if Terry Labonte disagrees? lol

Bill B

That was a different time. Fortune 500 companies don’t want to see confederate flags or bad behavior. A lot of things have changed in 20 years if you hadn’t noticed. No one will take a sport seriously these days if you can grab a chair from the stands and hit your opponent over the head with it, likewise if ramming your competitors into the wall every week. There has to be limits.

Jeremy

Is NASCAR taken seriously now? lol

Sorry man, I’m just in a weird mood tonight. I see what you’re saying, and you’re not wrong. But at the same time many decry the cleansing of driver personalities to turn them into corporate drones as the point at which NASCAR lost its soul.

Bill B

I don’t know if it’s ever been taken seriously, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try. I guess I was just raised with the antiquated idea that “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”. I know, it’s a silly notion in the 21st century.

Iceman202290

Temper was how Kyle Busch lost Kellogg’s and ultimately his ride at HMS.

Echo

Harvick is a dirty driver at times. He knows exactly where that cowcatcher is and how to use it to cut down tires. Kyle is a hot head and villain because he knows he’s the best and he honestly hates to lose. Kyle will wre ck himself trying to pass a car, but he isn’t the dirty driver harvick is.

Bill B

Well said.

Karen Howard

It’s amazing Harvick is mocked. When one the dirtiest drivers ever was Dale Earnhardt and he was was loved. I don’t know how old most of you are, maybe you never watched Dale. He was deemed one of the greats. When out for a win you make moves you don’t make in your lives.

Iceman202290

He would just rattle your cage…..while the announcer says….”…and he dumped him”

People tuned in though to either watch Dale win or to watch him lose.

JD in NC

I’m old enough to have been to numerous races when Earnhardt Sr. was in the field. I would say he wasn’t uniformly loved. During driver introductions fans made a lot of noise for Dale, but about half of them were booing.

Mohr

Like holding Elliott accountable?

TSB

For what???

KU

You obviously don’t understand the nature of the sport. This is what long time fans are missing. Real characters who decide things on the track. Go back and watch the “boys have it” statement by Robin Pemberton, maybe that will help your perspective.p

Bill B

They have those…. they are called demollshion derbies.

Point being if there aren’t clear lines and limits that’s what you end up with.

DoninAjax

Is it just me but why do I see Brian France when I see a picture of Elon Musk?

Bill B

LOL… I can see that resemblance a bit. You can always tell them apart though, one is successful.

DoninAjax

Here’s another one. Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo and Eli Wallach.

Bill B

Yeah, I can see that a little as well.

Carl D.

Elon is like Tony Stark. Brian is like Mini-Me.

Tom B

Kyle Petty says he is not calling Harvick out, but Harvick crossed the line. What kind of BS CYA comment is that?

Gary

Boo goo poor little chase maybe his daddy will beat up Harvick

Iceman202290

Harvick has had a lot of run ins over his career both on and off the track.
You got Biffle, Coy (parked), Ricky, Matt K, Kasey, Joe, Juan, Joey, Denny, Kyle, Ty, Brad K….just to name a few that come to mind. Think the lack of wins this year is starting to frustrate him, likely see him get more aggressive over the next few races.

Steven Dotson

Jesus, yall sound like a bunch of cry babie millennials. Rubbing is racing. People get wrecked. Personally I like seeing people drive with aggression and passion. Stop being p ussys.

Hunter

Rubbing is racing. Just like what Harvick did in Bristol. So is taking the racing line so the person behind you can’t pass. Just like Chase did in Bristol.

What’s not racing is blipping the throttle mid-corner to intentionally crash the guy in front of you. It wasn’t a racing move at all. That’s the problem with Harvick’s move. If he had given Chase a bit of a bump to move Chase up the track so he could get the position, that would have been a racing move. That’s clearly not what happened on Sunday though.

Steven Dotson

Don’t dish it if you can’t take it buddy. Cry baby got mad at Bristol and cost Harvick the race. Wth you think was going to happen. Mess with the bull you’re going to get the horn.

Hunter

Yawn

Anthony

They gave baby boy a free pass with a rear end flapping in the wind.it could come off went into the windshield or underbody of a competitor but they didn’t they should and would have had it been any other driver..the decision is made..formula 1,indy car and the weather tech series..money better spent..no more tickets to Texas or Cota. For nascar that is..

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