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Harvick behind decision to finish Talladega race

May 09, 2013, Kenny Bruce,

Says rain, darkness not to blame for wreck that spurred harsh words from Newman

Kevin Harvick said he understands Ryan Newman’s frustration, but that he had no issues with NASCAR completing last week's race at Talladega Superspeedway with darkness approaching and rain in the area.

“Just because you have one driver that wrecked and was frustrated, and criticized it and blamed that on his bad finish is not fair to read into the whole scenario,” Harvick said when addressing local media during a Goodyear tire test May 8 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Newman took NASCAR to task following Sunday’s Aaron’s 499, a race that saw the Stewart-Haas Racing driver involved in a multicar crash on Lap 183 of the scheduled 188-lap event.

“From a fan’s perspective, I think that NASCAR did everything they could do to finish the race and they … had a great finish,” Harvick, who was taken out in an earlier incident, said.

“There are a lot of opinions on how you should and shouldn’t do things and none of us are up there (in the tower) making those calls. (NASCAR officials) have made them hundreds of times, they can see out the window and aren’t going to put anyone in a bad position.”

"In my opinion they are not going to put us in a position, from darkness or rain, they are not going to put us in a bad position as a competitor."

-- Kevin Harvick

In a race that was red-flagged for more than three-and-a-half hours for rain, Newman was in the center of an incident that involved 12 cars and began when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. attempted to squeeze to the outside of J.J. Yeley on the backstretch.

The contact sent Yeley’s car shooting across the middle of the track where it caught the back end of the Chevrolet driven by Kurt Busch.

The impact sent Busch’s car into a barrel roll, and after rolling once, it landed right-side up and on top of Newman’s car.

“They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls. But they can't get their heads out of their asses far enough to keep them on the race track, and that's pretty disappointing,” Newman said afterward.

“That's no way to end a race. Our car was much better than that. That's just poor judgment in restarting the race, poor judgment ... I mean; you got what you wanted, but poor judgment and running in the dark and running in the rain.”

Newman was not penalized by NASCAR officials for his outburst. NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said May 9 that officials “disagree with the comments (Newman) made” but noted that he was not critical of the racing product itself.

Harvick, competing in his final season for Richard Childress Racing, said drivers put their faith in NASCAR to make the right calls on the track.

“It’s just like when they go out and dry the track,” Harvick said. “You know … the track is going to be dry. You go out on the track and you never think twice about it and you drive in the corner wide open.

“In my opinion they are not going to put us in a position, from darkness or rain, they are not going to put us in a bad position as a competitor. It might not turn out the way you wanted it to before it was raining, but that’s not their fault.”

Roush Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle, also taking part in the Chicago tire test, said NASCAR and the individual teams need to continue to work on ways to keep the cars grounded at high-speed tracks such as Talladega.

“But there is just no way to skin the cat that is going to revolutionize restrictor-plate racing,” he said. “It’s going to be part of the sport; we’re always going to have it and we can modify and adjust on it but it is what it is. That’s the way it’s going to be, I think.”

• Harvick, Newman, Biffle, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray and Jimmie Johnson took part in the two-day tire test. The series returns to the 1.5-mile track Sept. 15 for the first race in this year’s Chase For The Sprint Cup.

Not surprisingly, test speeds were up as Goodyear officials sorted through a number of tire compounds and constructions in an effort to gauge the best combination for this year’s race with the new Generation-6 car.

“Everybody knew that the cars would be faster,” Harvick said. “We unloaded (Wednesday) faster than we qualified last year in race trim. … As the rubber has gotten on it, the speeds have come back, but they’re still about a second faster than what we ran last year in our race pace.”

Johnson, a five-time Cup champion for Hendrick Motorsports, established the current track qualifying record of 188.147 mph in July 2005.



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