Kevin Harvick on Cup drivers in Xfinity, Trucks: ‘Just let them race. Who cares?’

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Kevin Harvick, who once owned an Xfinity team and races in that series, voiced his displeasure Tuesday night with NASCAR’s rule to further limit Cup drivers in Xfintiy and Truck races next year.

“I know there are going to be a lot of people that disagree with me, but it’s hard when you’re trying to build a business and you’re trying to sell sponsorship, you have no tool greater than yourself when you’re in a situation like Brad (Keselowski), myself or Kyle (Busch),’’ Harvick said on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show “Happy Hours.’’

“It seems you’re just getting your balls chopped off every time you try to go out and sell sponsorship to try to keep your team funded because of the fact you can’t run enough races, so you can’t tie it to enough things. To me, it’s not the right thing to do.’’

MORE: NASCAR further limits Cup drivers in Xfinity, Trucks 

MORE: Kyle Busch calls new rule “frustrating”

NASCAR announced Tuesday that all Cup drivers are prohibited from competing in the last eight races of the season for the Xfinity and Trucks — the regular-season finale and playoffs. Cup drivers are also prohibited from the Dash 4 Cash races.

Cup drivers with more than five years experience in that series are limited to seven Xfinity races (down from 10 this year) and five Truck races (down from seven this year). Harvick said that Cup drivers were going to be limited to five Xfinity races next year before a compromise of seven was set.

“Just let them race,’’ Harvick said. “Who cares? Why not just let them race. I don’t understand it. That’s what we do. We race cars, we race trucks, we race late models. That’s what we did all our life, we raced. I don’t know why all of a sudden it’s become a problem.’’

Harvick did say that he’s fine with Cup drivers being kept out of the playoffs in both series and the Dash 4 Cash races but they should not be kept out of any other races.

Harvick admits he’s biased toward team ownership because of his history. Harvick and wife DeLana owned Kevin Harvick Inc., which ran in NASCAR from 2002-11. The organization won Camping World Truck Series titles in 2007 and ’09 with Ron Hornaday Jr. and won the owner’s title in 2011. They sold the team after the 2011 season.

Harvick has said previously that allowing Cup drivers in the Xfinity and Truck Series gives young drivers in those series added experience of running against such competitors. He’s also expressed concerns about sponsorship since some sponsors want to be aligned with Cup drivers in those series.

Harvick said Tuesday on “Happy Hours” that Ryan Preece, who won this past weekend at Iowa Speedway for Joe Gibbs Racing, would not have had a chance to drive that car had it not been for JGR using Cup drivers.

“Let me tell you this, Ryan Preece‘s car wouldn’t even been in existence if Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones didn’t have the sponsorship … for that 20 car to be on the race track,” Harvick said on his show.

“I agree with the opportunity (for young drivers) but sometimes you have to balance that opportunity with trying to run a business,’’ Harvick said Tuesday night. “When you’re cutting Kyle’s feet and Brad’s feet out from underneath them when they can’t do what they want to do, then it becomes hard for the teams to do what they need to do.

“I think what you’re going to see happen, when you run out of those options, those Xfinity sponsors are going to start plugging holes on the Cup side and they’re still going to get the Cup driver that they want … because they’re going to put their money on the Cup car.’’

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Austin Dillon, Jeffrey Earnhardt in first wreck of Bristol night race

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The first big wreck of Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race occurred on Lap 232 of the scheduled 500-lap event.

It appeared Austin Dillon may have cut a tire and turned to his right, directly into the car of Jeffrey Earnhardt, sending both cars into the outside SAFER barrier and both sustaining heavy damage.

“We were running really good and all of a sudden the left-rear went flat,” Dillon said. “I don’t know what happened, if we had contact on that restart or our trackbar broke. My car chief said the letters on the Goodyear were rubbed off and about two laps later we broke.

“Our battery was going dead too, so it probably wasn’t going to be much longer we were going to be out of the race either way, but just a bummer. I really love this track and was having a blast tonight.  It sucks it had to end this way.”

Both cars were taken to the infield, with their nights likely over. That’s Bristol, baby.

Matt Kenseth wins Stage 2 at Bristol

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Matt Kenseth took the lead with about 10 laps left in Stage 2 when leader Kyle Busch pitted under caution. Kenseth went on to win the stage Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The second stage ended at Lap 250 of the 500-lap race.

It is Kenseth’s third stage win of the year. He entered the race holding the final playoff spot.

Jimmie Johnson finished second. Kevin Harvick placed third, Ryan Newman was fourth and pole-sitter Erik Jones finished the stage fifth. Jones was followed by Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Busch, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer.

Busch controlled most of Stage 2 and seemed set to win it until crew chief Adam Stevens elected to pit for tires to help set the team up for the rest of the race.

Busch fell from first to sixth on a pit stop after winning Stage 1 because of a problem with the left rear tire. He worked his way back to the lead on Lap 167, passing Jones for the top spot.

Jones took the lead back on Lap 179 as they raced in traffic around Brad Keselowski, who lost four laps because of a cut left front tire from contact in the opening laps.

Busch regained the lead on Lap 199. He maintained the advantage on pit road shortly after that when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hit the wall and brought out the caution.

Martin Truex Jr. had a loose right rear wheel and pitted as the field took the green on the restart. He had to pit shortly after that when he was penalized for an outside tire violation. After serving the penalty, Truex was two laps behind the leaders.

AJ Allmendinger had to pit under green because he had a tire rub after contact.

Jeffrey Earnhardt and Austin Dillon crashed on Lap 232. Dillon spun up the track and Jeffrey Earnhardt had nowhere to go and slammed into Dillon’s car. Kasey Kahne hit the wall and Joey Gase‘s car as he tried to slow.

 

Kyle Busch passes Kyle Larson on final lap to win Stage 1 at Bristol

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Kyle Busch passed Kyle Larson on the final lap to win Stage 1 on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Busch and Larson dueled the final 11 laps of the stage. They made contact while racing in traffic while racing to Lap 125 of the scheduled 500-lap event.

Busch seeks to win the Camping World Truck, Xfinity and Cup races this week at Bristol for the second time in his career. He won all three races in 2010.

After Busch, who started 18th, was pole-sitter Erik Jones. Larson finished third. Chase Elliott was fourth. Matt Kenseth placed fifth. Kenseth was followed by Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.

The stage win is Busch’s 10th of the season. Only Truex (15 stage wins) has more this season.

A couple of drivers had problems early in the race.

Brad Keselowski suffered a cut left front tire on Lap 5 and lost four laps by the time he pitted and got new tires. He was 38th at the end of the stage.

Aric Almirola brought out the caution on Lap 61 when he hit the wall. He was 33rd at the end of the stage.

List of driver introduction songs for the Bristol night race

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Here’s all the songs NASCAR Cup drivers selected for their introduction prior to the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Erik Jones – “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled

Kyle Larson – “Dirt Track Thing” by Kenny Montgomery

Kasey Kahne – “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” by Brooks & Dunn (picked by Dale Earnhardt Jr.)

Chase Elliott – “Chevy Don’t Let Me Down” by Jeff Bates

Matt Kenseth – “Halo on Fire” by Metallica

Martin Truex Jr. – “That’s How We Do Around Here” by Florida Georgia Line

Denny Hamlin – “Jumpman”  by Drake

Joey Logano – “Energy” by Drake

Clint Bowyer – “How Country Feels” by Randy Houser

Ryan Blaney – “Life Ain’t Fair & the World is Mean” by Sturgill Simpson

Jamie McMurray – “Believer” by Imagine Dragons

Daniel Suarez “El Mariachi Loco”

Ryan Newman – “Hutin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Everyday” by Luke Bryan

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – “Chattahoochee” – By Alan Jackson

Chris Buescher – “E” by Matt Mason

Austin Dillon – “Ain’t No Mercy” by Rick Ross

Brad Keselowski – “Right Now” by Van Halen

Kyle Busch – “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons

David Ragan – “I’m from the Country” by Tracey Byrd

Trevor Bayne – “Sideways” by KB Featuring Lecrae

Jimmie Johnson – “What’s My Name?” (clean version) by Snoop Dogg

Ty Dillon – “Rise Up” by Petey Pablo

AJ Allmendinger – “Paper Cut” by Linkin Park

Danica Patrick – “Regulate” by Warren G

Kurt Busch – “Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith

Michael McDowell – “Dream Team (I Had a Dream)” by Thi’sl

Paul Menard – “512” by Lamb of God

Aric Almirola – “Green Light” by Pitbull

Kevin Harvick – “Happy” by Pharrell

J.J. Yeley – “I Got You Babe” by Sonny & Cher

DALE EARNHARDT JR. – “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy (Rock Remix) by Birdman and Lil Wayne (Picked by Kasey Kahne)

Cole Whitt – “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot

Landon Cassill – “Silver Bullet” by Hawthorne Heights

Matt DiBenedetto – “Gon Give It To Ya” by DMX

Corey LaJoie – “Lights Come On” by Jason Aldean

BJ McLeod – “Kickstart My Heart” by Mötley Crüe

Gray Gaulding – “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi

JEFFERY EARNHARDT – “Good Life” by Tyler Hatley & The Little Mountain Band

Reed Sorenson – “Over and Under It” by Five Finger Death Punch

Joey Gase – “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas

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