Kevin Harvick holds a lot of opinions, and he is not shy about sharing them in the media or on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio program “Happy Hours.”
The 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion was back at it Thursday during the NASCAR Playoffs Show on NASCAR.com when asked how much payback and rivalries determine how one races another driver in the playoffs.
Harvick brought up the infamous run-ins of Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth during the 2015 playoffs that stemmed from Logano turning Kenseth for the lead in the closing laps at Kansas Speedway. Upon elimination in the Round of 12, Kenseth later got his revenge at Martinsville Speedway. Down several laps down due to an earlier accident, he wrecked Logano, the leader at the time.
“(If) Kansas doesn’t happen, Martinsville doesn’t happen and he (Logano) wins the championship,” Harvick said of the Team Penske driver.
Logano had swept the Round of 12 races at Charlotte, Kansas and Talladega and was the hot driver heading into the Round of 8, but his history with Kenseth came back to bite him.
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On-track aggressiveness played a role in last year’s Round of 8 as well, when Denny Hamlin’s late contact with Chase Elliott at Martinsville took Elliott out of the lead. The circumstance led to an exchange of words and a confrontation. Two races later, Elliott’s contact with Hamlin at Phoenix led to the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s playoff exit.
“He (Hamlin) wasn’t going to win that race at Phoenix, (anyway),” Harvick grinned, nodding to last year’s drama between Hamlin and Elliott.
These on-track battles are about perspective.
“You’ve got to be smart in each scenario,” Kyle Busch said. “There are opportune times for guys to make your life hell.”
Busch then cited how he felt Logano cost him a shot at a second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship by holding him up in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway last year. Busch felt that delay in not being able to get by Logano cost him valuable time in trying to track down the eventual race winner and champion Martin Truex Jr.
“You’ve got to pick and choose your battles,” Busch said.