Harvick’s been in MWR shoes; says NASCAR must protect competitors from selves

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In 2008, Kevin Harvick wasn’t just a driver for Richard Childress Racing’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series operation. He was also a team owner in the NASCAR Camping World – then Craftsman – Truck Series.

And at Atlanta, he faced a similar dilemma as Michael Waltrip Racing did Saturday night at Richmond regarding running positions of the trucks he owned.

Ryan Newman, then moonlighting as a guest driver in the second Kevin Harvick Incorporated truck, was running first ahead of KHI’s full-season driver Ron Hornaday Jr. in second. Newman won the race, and the 10 additional points that went with it.

Hornaday lost the 2008 championship to Johnny Benson by all of seven points.

“Ryan passed Ron for the lead and I stood on the pit box as an owner, with employees and other people asking ‘What are you doing? We’re racing for a championship?’ And we wound up losing the championship over that number of points,” Harvick explained at Thursday’s NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup media advance in Chicago.

“It’s a double-edged sword. You always want what’s right for your team. But the (MWR situation) was handled very poorly by that organization as far as management, spotters, and how they did it. It was ‘throw it in your face, here’s what we’re doing, people.’ NASCAR has to protect us from ourselves.”

The fallout from the non-call to reverse positions, in Harvick’s case, led to people who quit the organization. KHI folded into Eddie Sharp Racing before 2012.

“I had employees quit because they didn’t think we were managing the team correctly, and that we let that situation happen. No one said anything from a sponsor side, but we had people quit,” Harvick said.

He also offered two stick-and-ball comparisons as it pertains to the integrity of the sport.

“I say think about it like this: is the integrity of Major League Baseball questioned when a guy leans into the batter’s box and gets hit by a pitch? From an athlete standpoint, we think like that batter. In football, Sean Payton was part of the whole bounty scheme, so the NFL decided that was the penalty based on what happened.

“I think about whatever I have to do to win as a competitor. But NASCAR and management has to protect the competitor from himself.”

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.