LOUDON, N.H. — Kevin Harvick didn’t want to wait. Kyle Busch won’t forget.
Harvick’s bump-and-run of Busch with seven laps left Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway spiced what has the potential to be quite a duel between the two the rest of the season.
“How you race is how you get raced,” Busch said after his runner-up finish to Harvick.
Busch said he felt Harvick didn’t need to be as physical when he was.
“He did that because of Chicago,” Busch said, alluding to the beating and banging Busch and Kyle Larson had on the last lap of that race. “Everybody has fair game on Kyle Busch that’s for sure when it comes to the fanbase. That’s fine. That’s how they want to race, that’s how I’ll race back.
“It’s just a bump. He didn’t wreck me or anything like that. He did it early enough, but he did it way harder and pushed me out of the groove three lanes and it just takes you so long to recover here that there was no possible way I could get back to him and I was slower anyways so I was in the way. So no harm no foul.”
But Busch won’t forget.
“When you’re slower, you kind of expect that but you also think that you a guy is going to race you fair and clean first,” Busch said. “I don’t think he ever tried to pass me clean once he got there. He just kept hitting me in the rear bumper each and every time it was getting increasingly harder.”
Harvick never intended to wait so long.
“I figured that’s exactly what he was thinking,” he said of Busch. “I knew I needed to take the opportunity as early as I could get it because I knew that he was thinking late and needed to do it when he wasn’t expecting it.
“The more opportunities to get into his wheelhouse, in his thought process, the less chance that you have. He’s that good. If you wait until two or three to go, the entries are going to get shallower, he’s going to start grinding on the brakes a little bit harder. He’s going to put himself in a position to not get hit and he’s going to go on defense and really start to be aggressive. I wanted to do it earlier just to try to catch him off guard.”
Is he worried about how Busch could race him the rest of the regular season and the playoffs?
“You do and you worry about that stuff later,” Harvick said. “It’s not like I wrecked him. It’s the same thing as Chicago.”
Harvick said one has to do all they can to win races, especially against another playoff foe. The victory allowed Harvick to gain five playoff points and kept Busch from collecting those.
“These races are hard to win,” Harvick said. “When you’re in position, it’s one of those things that you have to do what you have to do for your team. You want to do everything you can to not spin him out and not wreck him and just make it as clean as possible and try to accomplish the bump and run. Today we were able to accomplish it well and win the race.”