Harvick now in spotlight after incendiary comments toward RCR (VIDEO)

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In the long run, Darrell Wallace Jr.’s win in today’s Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway – the first for an African-American driver in NASCAR national series competition in almost 50 years – will be what’s most remembered from the event.

But right now, that accomplishment may be overshadowed by Kevin Harvick’s fiery verbal missive toward Richard Childress Racing, the team he’s currently chasing a Sprint Cup championship with and the team he’ll be leaving at the end of the year for Stewart-Haas Racing.

With 13 laps to go in today’s Truck race, RCR’s Ty Dillon got into the back of Harvick while battling for second place behind Wallace. With a little “help” from the oncoming Matt Crafton, Dillon wound up spinning Harvick out.

Dillon proceeded to hit Harvick’s truck repeatedly under the ensuing yellow, followed by Harvick stopping near Dillon’s stall on pit road. That drew out several members of Dillon’s crew for a brief confrontation, which saw an orange hammer launched toward Harvick’s truck during the proceedings.

That was the first round of fireworks. Then came round two.

“The 3 [Dillon] just dumped me, and that’s exactly the reason I’m leaving RCR because you have these kids coming up that have no respect for what they do in this sport,” Harvick said to Fox Sports. “Everything’s fed to them with a spoon.

“I cut him slack all day and he just dive-bombs me in there and dumps me…It’s a shame you’ve got to get taken out by some rich kid like that.”

It should be noted that Ty Dillon will be moving up to RCR’s Nationwide Series squad next season, while Austin Dillon is expected to jump to Sprint Cup and basically replace Harvick in that category.

Going into this weekend, Harvick had been the one driver out of the major Chase players that seemed the most “under the radar” despite having signaled his title contention earlier this month with a win at Kansas.

Furthermore, his looming departure from RCR hadn’t been at the forefront during the post-season. But after he effectively buried the team today, it sure will be now.

For his part, team owner Childress chose not to respond in kind to Harvick. According to Motor Racing Network’s Dustin Long, Childress said he had “too much class” to say what he really wanted to say but added that when he would, he’d “say it to [Harvick’s] face.”

Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall for that? But snark aside, this may have seriously negative implications for Harvick’s title bid. Currently fourth in the Chase at 26 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson, he is still very much in the mix with four races to go – and a big result in tomorrow’s Cup race could help him hack into that deficit.

But Harvick and Childress must be able to set this apparent discord aside in order to focus on their main goal. And now, they’ll have to do that while their entire No. 29 squad faces what’s sure to be an ample amount of scrutiny after today.

Whether or not the two can get back on the same page has now become the main storyline for tomorrow’s critical Chase race in Virginia.

Helio Castroneves: ‘I have nothing to lose’ Sunday in bid for 4th Indy 500 win

All photos: IndyCar
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You might say Helio Castroneves comes into Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 with a “less is more” philosophy than he’s had in years past:

* No pressure

* No worrying about points

* No worrying about winning a championship

Take away all those things and the very popular Brazilian driver could be in the best position he’s ever been to achieve the biggest goal of his career:

Winning a fourth Indy 500, making him a member of motor racing’s most exclusive club, joining legendary drivers A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only drivers to conquer the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway four times each.

Like his car number, Castroneves has won the Indy 500 three times. He wants to change that number to four times in Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. Photo: IndyCar.

“For sure, I definitely don’t have much to lose in terms of points, championships, and things like that,” Castroneves told MotorSportsTalk earlier this week. “I don’t have to think that I don’t have a car to win, I’m not going to risk that much because there are still championship points (to earn if he was still racing full-time in the series).

“Not that I did that before, but if the situation occurs, people just need to know I have nothing to lose this time.”

Castroneves three prior triumphs in the 500 came in his first two years in the field – 2001 and 2002 – and again in 2009. In addition, he has finished twice in the last four editions of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing in 2014 and 2017.

Coming so close last year, losing to Takuma Sato by .201 of a second, is something Castroneves hasn’t forgotten about. To come so close to No. 4 has only made him more hungry to get it done on Sunday.

“Yeah, but if it were easy, we would likely have had more than four wins by now,” he said. “We’ve had opportunities in the past, the last four years we were really competitive, we were right there, especially in ’14 and ’17, we were right on it.

“Last year, I thought it was going to be the hardest 500 for me and look what happened: we were battling to the end for a victory,” Castroneves said. “It’s not just about trying hard, it’s about being there at the right place at the right time.

“And this place, Indianapolis, I’ve always said the track winds up choosing who is going to be the winner. Hopefully, with safety and luck, we’ll be part of it and be on the right side.”

Team owner Roger Penske decided after last season to put Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya as the chief drivers of Team Penske’s new two-car effort in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship sports car series.

When the announcement was first made, many feared that Castroneves had run out of chances to get that elusive No. 4 at Indy.

But Penske sweetened the deal for Helio to go sports car racing by promising he’d field a car for him at Indy. And Penske has proven to be a man of his word, giving Castroneves everything he needs to finally win No. 4.

“I feel we’ve prepared as much as a team, we’re doing everything possible in relation to preparation,” Castroneves said. “The preparation we had in the previous year helps us tremendously to give us an opportunity fighting there for a win, and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Castroneves has taken to the new style Indy car with aplomb. During the first week of practice leading up to last weekend’s qualifying, he was consistently one of the fastest drivers in the field.

The 43-year-old even topped the speed charts in the Fast Nine last Saturday before ending up eighth in the following day’s pole qualifying.

As a result, he’ll start Sunday’s race from the middle of Row 3, anchoring Team Penske’s four-man Top 8 starting lineup effort in the 500. When the green flag drops, to his left will be Danica Patrick and to his right will be four-time IndyCar champ and former 500 winner Scott Dixon.

And millions of others right behind him, so to speak.

“I feel the sense that everyone wants it to happen,” he said of winning No. 4. “We’re talking about being part of history here. The last guy to do it was Rick Mears in the ‘90s (1991).

“I mean, how cool would that be if I would be in the position and to see No. 4 in my era. I hear a lot of the fans, even those supporting different drivers, all saying ‘Man, I want to see you win No. 4.’ That just shows how special this place is.

“(The Indy 500) is part of a lot of people’s lives. I just would be very fortunate to hopefully to have this generation see someone do No. 4.”

While he’d rather not think about missing out on a fourth win at Indy for a ninth straight year, Castroneves is using reverse psychology somewhat.

He’s going into Sunday’s biggest race in the world fully believing he will finally win No. 4.

And if he does, forget the idea that he would never come back to race at Indy again.

“Not at all. Why? You’re so close to getting four, and then when you get four, you stop it? It doesn’t make sense.

“I think I still have at least four or five more years, there’s no question about it. As long as Roger (Penske) gives me the opportunity, I’m going to be going for it, for sure.”

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