In light of the lingering dismay among many drivers and team owners about Monday’s Cup race at Dover, Kevin Harvick gave his take on Wednesday’s edition of Happy Hours on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Harvick spoke at length with co-host Matt Yocum about his own frustrations over the race and the aero package that brought speeds up to what some drivers considered dangerous or too fast. Harvick particularly noted Kyle Busch’s well-publicized, post-race complaints.
“You look at the things he does and places he races, those are big comments from somebody like Kyle,” Harvick said of Busch. “Look at the facts, my car was 17 mph faster through the corner than it was last year and 4 mph slower on the straightaway.
“That’s something the drivers have really talked about the last 3-4 years, getting the corner speeds down. That’s where some of the frustration showed up at Dover…. We’ve slowed the cars on the straight, but the center of the corner speeds are still up at most every racetrack we go to. So I understand and agree with his frustrations.”
Harvick also had his own frustrations.
“In my opinion, (race winner Martin Truex Jr.) had the dominant car that could win the race,” Harvick said. “When you hear him say it was tough to pass, that says to me that I need to stop and think about what he said and why he said that. When you have the dominant car and the car to beat on a particular day, it should not take you 250 laps to get to the front (both Truex and runner-up Alex Bowman started from the back of the field).
“(Truex) took the lead on the last lap of the second stage. That’s what he’s talking about it. He made it to the front eventually. … I think the thing that’s speaking from the race winner, Kyle Busch and myself, the frustration is it takes so long to make a pass. At Dover, it took a long time to pass no matter who you came up on. It slowed you down. Having to take 15-20 laps to pass each car takes time. That’s really where the drivers are coming from in this particular instance. You can pass, but you have to wait for a mistake.”
Harvick also lamented how drivers don’t have the kind of leaders or communication avenues as open with NASCAR that others had in the past, most notably the late Dale Earnhardt.
“From a driver’s standpoint, in the past we started the driver’s council and that has kind of faded away this year and there’s a little frustration on the driver’s side because it has fallen on deaf ears over the past couple of years,” Harvick said. “I think a lot of Kyle’s (Busch) frustration and what he’s saying bleeds over to other drivers. You don’t feel like your voice is being heard. … The driver’s voice is not being heard very much on things when it comes to competition, especially when it comes to this particular style of rules package, and then you get to Dover and it boils over after the first 11 weeks.
“… Before Dale Sr. passed, he was the kind of guy NASCAR trusted, could go to and say things and the drivers all trusted and said we’re on board with him. I don’t really feel there’s that type of communication since Dale Sr. left. There’s no guy and no one really in the very top of the NASCAR executive side of things that has the experience inside the car that can relate to the drivers and say this is what these guys are feeling, what they’re saying and I understand their frustrations.
“It’s a very tough, tough position that everything is in right now, after all this stuff is laid on the table by the race winner, (team owner) Bob Leavine and Kyle Busch. There’s a lot of things to digest here.”
How can that communication be improved?
“I don’t think all of it lays on NASCAR,” Harvick said. “Some of it lays on the team owners, to get the drivers more into the mix. It’s not like that on a lot of teams. Our team is not aligned with a lot of the decisions and some of the things that have happened in the sport. … I think we’ve got to pull the owners into this conversation because a lot of them have pushed NASCAR into doing the things they’ve done from a financial situation. … We have to get the drivers and owners to be more on the same page with what’s going on from the owner’s and NASCAR standpoint and get that communication right. That’s a piece of the puzzle that’s missing.
“… I wouldn’t lay all the decisions that have been made in the sport are definitely not all on NASCAR’s shoulders. Thats one of the more frustrating things that happens. Everybody comes into how do we make the sport better, whether it’s competition or social media or whatever, and can’t set aside those agendas to do what’s right for the sport.
“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of politics in every decision that gets made and everything we do in today’s world. This is not my favorite thing to talk about, but obviously with everything that happened this week, this is definitely a topic we have to talk about.”