Kevin Harvick on stage race with Kurt Busch: ‘Every point matters’

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Kevin Harvick explained Tuesday night on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show why he raced Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch so hard at the end of stage 2 at Chicagoland Speedway and his reaction to Busch’s radio rant.

Harvick passed Busch on the outside coming to the line to win the stage Sunday and score 10 points — and most importantly — one playoff point.

Busch went on a profanity-laced tirade on his radio before saying: “That’s a teammate right there everybody. That’s what a teammate does. Never expected that from a teammate.”

On his show “Happy Hours,” Harvick said:

“For us and the No. 4 team, I mean, every point matters. Honestly, I didn’t hit him. I didn’t run into him. Didn’t move him out of the way. So, he kind of has those tirades on the radio quite a bit.

“I think for me, it’s really about the (playoff) point. When you look at the weekend, we felt like we were not where we wanted to be from a car standpoint and were able to get a good points weekend out of it and a stage win. I hate that it hurt his feelings, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Harvick agreed that a teammate is given more respect on the track but said it’s still racing.

“It’s a situation where (at Stewart-Haas Racing) you are expected to race hard,” Harvick said. “There are no team orders. Everybody wants you to go out and race as hard as you can, and they want you to race each other as hard as you can without tearing up your race cars.

“For me, I didn’t see anything that was out of bounds. When (NBC Sports’) Dave (Burns) asked me that question after the race (about Busch), I didn’t, obviously, hear the radio communication and the things out of Kurt’s mouth. But for me in the car, I thought it was a good race, gave him thumbs up down the backstraightaway and he gave me the thumbs up back.

“I thought all was good. Like I say, those meltdowns are not uncommon from that particular radio.”

By winning the stage, Harvick increased his total to 27 playoffs points. Kyle Busch has a series-high 30 playoff points. Kurt Busch has two playoff points.

“Right now you want to try to win every stage, you want to try to win every race and everything you can because you never know what’s going to happen,” Harvick said. “You look at Kyle Larson last year. Everybody thought Kyle Larson was a lock to the end of the year because of the bonus points he had. Well, guess what, he blew a motor and wrecked, all in one (round). … Anything can happen, no matter how many bonus points you have. But the more that you can gather, the more cushion that you give yourself against as many mistakes.”

This isn’t the first difference of opinion between the two former champions at SHR.

They had issues after the race at Talladega Superspeedway in the 2016 playoffs. Busch hit Harvick’s car on the cool-down lap. After they parked on pit road, Harvick went to Busch’s car, reached in with his right hand and leaned into the car.

Here is the video of what happened in that 2016 race and what both said afterward:

Kurt Busch on contract status beyond 2018: ‘we’ll see how it all comes together’

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LOUDON, N.H. — Former champion Kurt Busch said Friday that he’s focused on his performance on the track even though his contract ends after this season.

“For me, I’ve just been racing, driving and performing, doing all the things I can do to exceed in all categories, whether it’s teammate things, things on the track … communication with (crew chief) Billy Scott,” Busch said after winning the pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“I don’t know many drivers that have a primary sponsor with them. Monster Energy has been very loyal to me. It’s just a matter of when the time is to start talking about a contract. Last year, it went long just because I felt I deserved more. The landscape is changing in NASCAR on primary sponsorship values, teams with the purse and the guarantee that they get off the historical performance. There are a lot of things that move, so we’ll see how it all comes together.”

MORE: Stewart-Haas Racing makes pit crew changes

MORE: Martin Truex Jr. laments sponsor leaving after this year

Last year, Stewart-Haas Racing declined the option on Busch’s contact when there were questions about if Monster Energy would return as a primary sponsor. After that was settled, Busch signed a one-year contract with the team. The deal was announced Dec. 12.

This is Busch’s fifth season with Stewart-Haas Racing. He’s won five races, including the 2017 Daytona 500 with the team. He has made the playoffs each year with SHR.

Busch’s pole Friday was his third of the year. He has yet to win a race this season but has 10 top-10 finishes.

“When you go to a track that you have good vibes about and with the team doing well, it gives you that feeling like you’re a step ahead and you just have to execute with confidence and not get too far off expecting good things to happen,” Busch said. “Just go out there and do your job and that’s what we’re doing right now and it’s great to have the pole with the 41 car.”

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Starting lineup for New Hampshire Cup race

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Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will start from the front row in Sunday’s Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Busch starts from the pole position for the third time this season and the first time at New Hampshire.

The top five is completed by Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney.

Alex Bowman in eighth and Daniel Suarez in ninth earned their best starting position at New Hampshire.

Kevin Harvick missed the final round of qualification and starts 14th.

Click here for the complete starting lineup.

Kurt Busch wins pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

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Kurt Busch posted a lap of 133.591 mph in the final round of qualification for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and will lead the field to green on Sunday. Busch was the only Stewart-Haas Racing driver to advance to the final round.

This is Busch’s first pole at New Hampshire, but he has started on the front row twice before – most recently in July, 2013. He finished 31st in that race and was 21st after starting second in July, 2007.

He beat Martin Truex Jr. (133.502 mph) by .019 seconds.

Kyle Busch (133.431), Denny Hamlin (133.361) and Ryan Blaney (132.720) round out the top five.

Alex Bowman (132.618) had the fastest Chevrolet in eighth. This is his best New Hampshire start in his seventh race.

Kevin Harvick (132.554) failed to advance to the final round and posted the 14th fastest time.

Kyle Larson (132.039) failed to back up his practice speed. He had the third fastest car in that session, but failed to make the final round and qualified 20th.

Last year, Kyle Busch won from the pole for the first time since Ryan Newman did so in the July 2011.This is Busch’s first pole at New Hampshire, but he has started on the front row twice before – most recently in 2013. He finished 31st in that race and was 21st after starting second in 2007.

Daniel Suarez  (132.581) in ninth earned his best New Hampshire start in three tries.

NASCAR America at 6 p.m. ET: Today’s action from New Hampshire

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 6-7 p.m. ET on NBCSN and gets a jump on this weekend’s racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Parker Kligerman in Stamford, Connecticut.

On today’s show:

  • The New Hampshire race weekend is off and running. Carolyn and Parker have complete coverage following today’s practices and Monster Energy Series qualifying from Loudon.
  • They will get reaction from several drivers, including the one who will start from the pole in Sunday’s race.
  • Plus, New England native Parker Kligerman jumps in the NBC Sports iRacing simulator to show us the challenges of racing the Magic Mile.
  • Nate Ryan of NBCSports.com examines the dominance of NASCAR’s Big 3 of Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 6 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.