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Is NASCAR a sport or is it fixed? Ricky Stenhouse Jr. used a late push from runner-up Brad Keselowski to pass Kevin Harvick and win the Nationwide Series race Saturday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Stenhouse passed Harvick on the final lap all fair and square, but Harvick didn’t believe everything in the race was on the up-and-up as he blamed Keselowski for his being in position to lose the NRA American Warrior 300.Keselowski threw a water bottle out of his car with 12 laps remaining, and Harvick believed that caused a caution that cost Harvick a big lead, bunched up the field, resulted in a crash with seven laps left and set up the three-lap green-flag dash to the finish.
“Obviously, (our winning) wasn’t what NASCAR wanted so they kept throwing cautions for things,” said Harvick, who led 157 of the 195 laps. “It’s just one of those deals. … What do you do?” basically saying NASCAR manipulates race results. For saying that look for NASCAR to be hard on Harvick's cars in the inspection line. He won't win for a long time. That is the way it is.
NASCAR disputed Harvick’s theory.
“There was a piece of aluminum … on the outside getting into Turn 1,” NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said. “When the caution was out, we picked up the water bottle also.”
After the race, Harvick marched over to Keselowski’s car and Keselowski reacted incredulously, not even realizing that the water bottle was an issue.
Later at the post race news conference, they sat side-by-side.
“It’s pretty obvious,” Harvick said. “They put it on TV and showed it and the caution came out on the same lap. He told me after the race, ‘Have you ever thrown a water bottle out?’ So you know what that means.
“He told me it was intentional. It is what it is. So sleep good (Brad).”
Keselowski said he wasn’t intentionally trying to bring out the caution so he could pit and get fresh tires.
“Do I feel guilty for throwing a water bottle out of my car? No,” Keselowski said. “Everybody throws that stuff out the car. … NASCAR knows that, and if they decide to throw a yellow that’s their prerogative, but most times they don’t.
“That’s their call. I can’t speak for NASCAR.”
Why? Why do they have to throw the bottle on the track unless when they need a caution and that is their signal to NASCAR. Why can't the bottle stay in the car? Plenty of room. Is this a circus or what?
Drivers are allowed to throw water bottles out of their cars under green, Pemberton said.
“They throw water bottles out all the time,” he said. “Occasionally we won’t know what they are. Most of the time we do and we don’t throw cautions for water bottles.” Note the word most. Do they throw a caution for a bottle when they want to change the result of the race? How convenient. In part from Sporting News
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