CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Kevin Harvick said Tuesday he didn’t cause the accident that ended Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway under caution and that he doesn’t need to defend himself.
Harvick, speaking to the media for the first time since Sunday, was asked several questions about why he restarted in 10th place despite having an ill car lacking power, his contact with Trevor Bayne that triggered an 11-car crash and other drivers accusing him of intentionally wrecking Bayne to create a caution and ensure he would advance to the third round of the Chase.
“I’m not going to throw stones,’’ Harvick said during Chase media day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “I don’t believe that’s the right thing to do. I didn’t cause the first wreck (which led to the aborted attempt at a green-white-checkered finish). And I definitely don’t believe that I caused the second wreck, either.
“It’s just one of those situations that I did the best I could on the restarts to get going, and I got out of the way. I never saw (Bayne) until he was by me and doing what he was doing. It’s just one of those situations where you can’t stop. You have to continue to let it try to play out, and it really did play out. Those guys wrecked the first time and obviously the situation with the restart was what it was.’’
Asked about claiming to not causing the incident with Bayne, Harvick said: “I restarted the race, hit the gas, and I was going up and Trevor was coming down, and that was definitely the beginning point of what happened. I was trying to just get going. That was my biggest thing. I thought if I could get going, I might be involved in a situation where something else happened like it did on the first one. In our second attempt at one attempt, we had more happen.’’
Bayne said on the radio that Harvick turned him. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth – who each failed to advance to the third round – said they felt Harvick caused the crash intentionally. Tuesday, JGR teammate Carl Edwards said “I was expecting there to be some action or penalty (against Harvick) but there wasn’t.’’
Said Harvick: “No, I don’t need to defend myself.’’
NASCAR announced Tuesday morning that Harvick would not be penalized for his actions, reaffirming what Mike Helton, vice chairman, said after the race that Harvick had done nothing wrong.
Harvick’s situation intensified Sunday after Jamie McMurray’s engine blew, setting up an attempt at finishing under the green flag, Harvick radioed his team that he was underpowered.
Harvick was asked Tuesday why he pulled out of line on the aborted green-white-checkered restart but didn’t on the final restart.
“They were wrecking when I pulled up at some point during all that,’’ Harvick said. “So you just try to get going as best you can. The second one, you try to do the same thing and get going as best as you can.’’
While fans have questioned why Harvick didn’t pull to the back of the line with a car that likely wasn’t going to get up to speed, several drivers Tuesday said they would have done the same thing.
“I didn’t have an oil leak, my car was still maintaining (caution) speed,’’ Harvick said.
“I think if you’re at race 13, and you’re in a situation like that, you pull into the pits. If you’re in a cutoff race at Talladega, you have to play the restart out. You have to try. If it falls on its face and you crash or whatever the case may be, you still have a little glimmer of hope. That’s your season. You just have to hope.’’
As for Hamlin’s comments accusing him of intentionally wrecking Bayne, Harvick said he wasn’t worried about it.
“Look, Denny is a very emotional person,’’ Harvick said. “I would consider Denny a fair acquaintance. I don’t consider too many of them my friends because we get in situations like this. He’s going to stand behind what he believes in and that’s fair. I don’t think anybody can knock him for that. I’m not going to sit here and throw stones. I’ve been made at situations. I was mad at a situation with him last week.’’