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.”