MONTREAL – Kevin Harvick is still upset with good friend Tony Stewart, who ran into him in the closing laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and ruined what should have been a second-place finish.
“He’s called. I just haven’t answered,” Harvick said Thursday between practice sessions for the inaugural Busch Series race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
The contact between the two cars with 10 laps to go in Sunday’s race damaged Harvick’s front fender and ruined his Chevrolet’s handling. Stewart drove off to victory, Harvick faded to seventh, and the difference cost him 24 points in the standings and $116,439 in prize money.
As they head to Pocono Raceway for this weekend’s Nextel Cup race, the duo will have to work through Harvick’s hard feelings. Stewart admitted right after Sunday’s race that he’d made a mistake by running into Harvick while attempting to retake the lead.
“If I’m going to preach about give and take, it’s stupid for me to not do the same thing,” Stewart said. “If I want people to race me with respect, I’m going to race people with respect. I didn’t mean to get into Kevin. That wasn’t my intention.
“There was no logical reason to get into him. That was a mistake on my part.”
Many drivers have long complained about Stewart’s give-and-take rants, saying the two-time champion doesn’t practice what he preaches. That seemed to be Harvick’s take Thursday.
“If you’re going to preach it, you’ve got to back it,” Harvick said. “I understand he probably made a mistake, but when you’re on the receiving end of it, it’s not a part that I take lightly.”
Harvick argued that Stewart, who dominated the race, eventually was going to pass him anyway. Stewart was running away with the race until a late caution set up one final restart. Harvick, the 2003 race winner, jumped past Stewart at the green flag, and Stewart spent the next 10 laps chasing him down – even once calling over his radio, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Come get you some of this.”
After catching him, Stewart made several attempts to get past Harvick and failed. When he finally pulled even, the two drag raced until Stewart bumped Harvick and pulled away.
“He was going to pass us,” Harvick said. “It was just a matter of time. From my end, it just looks like he just got in a hurry and got a little bit frustrated because he couldn’t get by as easy as he wanted to.”
It’s particularly awkward because Harvick and Stewart are good friends, and Stewart regularly drives Harvick-owned cars in the Busch Series. Stewart even drove Kevin Harvick Inc. cars to a pair of victories at Daytona.
Jeff Burton, Harvick’s teammate, said that friendship has complicated the issue.
“I think that’s what makes it hurt more, that it’s family,” Burton said. “You go into it thinking you are going to be raced one way, and when it doesn’t happen, it hurts. Now Kevin needs to decide if No. 1, it was preventable, or No. 2, it was intentional.
“Either way, he’s got to decide if it was intentional and how he wants to move forward.”
Harvick said he just needs some time.
“I don’t think you let anything on the track affect your relationship off the race track,” he said.
“For me, it’s better to just take some time and think about things and just realize where we are and go from there. I’ll get over it. At some point. And we’ll still be friends.”