Editorial

Kevin Harvick - NASCAR's latest example

by Dave Yaeck
April 17, 2002

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Race weekends at NASCAR’s oldest track, Martinsville Speedway, always brings excitement for this is the second short track of the season that the circuit visits. The .526-mile paper clip shaped track brings out the skills of a driver to maneuver around the tight turns as well as the fast straight a ways. This weekend did not disappoint and at the end of the Virginia 500, Bobby Labonte scored his first short track victory and his brother Terry Labonte not only led his first lap in over a year but finished sixth.

But that was not the biggest news of the weekend.

No, because Kevin Harvick decided to run his #6 Chevy truck, owned by his wife DeLana, in the Advance Auto Parts 250 truck race on Saturday. You would think that since this seemed like more of a promotional deal to get a chance to run with the great Darrell Waltrip and bring out some more fans to see a truck race that normally would not have, than a points battle type of race, he would relax and have a good time.

But then again, that’s not Kevin Harvick

Early in the race, Harvick was spun around by the #20 MBNA Chevy Truck of Coy Gibbs. Well, it seems that Kevin thought it was wrong of Gibbs to do that so later on in the race Harvick got into the back of Gibbs’ truck and sent him spinning.

After what looked to be intentional on Harvick’s part, NASCAR immediately stepped in and ordered Harvick off the track and he was to park his car for the day. For this, not only did Harvick have to drop out of the Advance Auto Parts 250 but was also ‘Parked’ by NASCAR for the entire Winston Cup race, The Virginia 500 for his actions. Another down side to sitting out the race was he fell from the 22nd position to the 29th position. He is currently 517 points out of first place, currently held by Sterling Marlin.

So…. In the long run, Kevin Harvick hosed himself out of a possible chance to gain ground in the points for the Winston Cup title by losing his temper in a race where points to him did not matter. Excuse me, but is this déjà vu or WHAT!

Just 3 weeks ago in Bristol, he was in the Busch race, again a race where points did not matter, it was more of a promotional deal for the movie E.T., when Greg Biffle spun him around and took him out of the race. After the race Harvick confronted Biffle about it in an inappropriate matter and it cost him $15 GRAND plus probation in ANY of the 3 NASCAR series.

Maybe someone forgot to give him that part of the memo.

To make matters worse for Harvick, on Monday, NASCAR reported that he would be fined an additional $35,000 and his prior probation is now extended until December 31, 2002. NASCAR also put him on notice during this probationary period “that if there are any actions, in NASCAR’s opinion, that are deemed detrimental to the sport or disruptive to the orderly conduct of an event, he will be suspended indefinitely.”
Then on top of everything else Harvick’s fellow drivers are not happy with his actions.

“He lost a lot of respect of a lot of people just from his childish behavior.” Ward Burton said, “I’m not going to sit here and say I’m perfect by any means and that I haven’t made mistakes and I haven’t lost my temper, but hell, he loses his every week.”

Harvick's boss, car owner Richard Childress feels that the actions by NASCAR are unjustified due to the fact that this occurred in another series of NASCAR.

“NASCAR is also punishing the entire No. 29 team and all of Richard Childress Racing for one person's actions." Childress Said

When he came on the scene last year he was one of the hottest drivers on the circuit. He did an outstanding job by finishing in the top 10 in the Winston Cup standings and winning the 2001 Busch Series Championship. This year has not been all that good so far for the man who just one year ago took over the driving duties of the #3 car and took that team to 2 victories.

But Kevin, like the saying goes. That was then and this is NOW.

Though many were said not to see Kevin race on Sunday (Kenny Wallace drove in place of him) I feel that NASCAR made the right decision. It’s time for them to put their foot down and make examples of people that are now following the rules. It’s just unfortunate that this time it had to be him. Hopefully this will ground the man and make him realize that racing in the Winston Cup Series is a privilege & and honor that should not be taken lightly.

Don’t get me wrong folks; I believe that Kevin Harvick is one of the best drivers on the circuit. He will also be one of the drivers that will mold this sport’s future for the next 20 years or more.

Kevin now just needs to learn that he is not going to be THE ONLY ONE!

The author can be contacted nascar@autoracing1.com

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