Kevin Harvick presented his side of the controversial Talladega Superspeedway finish on Tuesday, telling reporters he was trying to move up the track with a wounded engine when race-ending contact with Trevor Bayne occurred. In a 20-minute interview session for the third round of NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup, Harvick was not defensive or combative about the accusations he intentionally crashed Bayne to preserve his playoff spot. Instead, Harvick was calm and charming, telling reporters he understood why some of his competitors were angry but didn't feel the need to defend himself publicly. The defending series champion said he "never really even saw" Bayne – though he was light on specifics when pressed several times to recall more details.
"I just tried to get going and thinking and before I even knew, he was gone," Harvick said. "I didn't even really know he was out there until he was already by me. It all happens pretty fast."
Harvick said he didn't defend himself on Twitter or contact other drivers because those types of conversations rarely result in anything positive. As for Hamlin, who he called a "fair acquaintance" because he doesn't like to make friends in the garage, Harvick said he wasn't upset by the driver's accusations. "Denny is a very emotional person," Harvick said.
"He's a very opinionated person and he's going to stand behind what he believes in, and that's fair. I'm not going to sit here and throw stones because I've been mad at situations."
The 39-year-old's voice was hoarse and he struggled to maintain a normal speaking volume – the consequence of an illness he said has persisted for several weeks. Harvick visited a doctor this week and said he's now on the mend.
As for the fans who thought he should have pulled into the pits after his #4 Chevry's engine started expiring, Harvick cited a life lesson from quitting on his high school wrestling team as a reason to never give up.
"You have to play the restart out," he said. "You have to try. … I didn't have an oil leak. My car was still maintaining speed. It's like I've got a dagger in my side, but I can still walk." USA Today