Kevin Harvick: Our bad luck was bound to turn around

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CONCORD, N.C. – Kevin Harvick doesn’t have to worry about puking and crew chief Rodney Childers can go easy on the Pepto-Bismol tablets.

With Saturday night’s win in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the duo can go into next Sunday’s race at Talladega not only with their stomach’s settled down, but also with their ticket punched into the Eliminator Round.

“Yeah, I won’t be anorexic and throwing up all week,” Harvick laughed in his post-race media conference. “I didn’t even know how we were going to prepare for next week without it just being a total disaster because you just know that so much is out of your control going into Talladega.

“Really this is the round that we focused the most on in my opinion. … Talladega is always crazy. I mean, it’s going to be so crazy with everybody in the offensive frame of mind like everybody was tonight that they might have to move the seats back a few rows.”

MORE: Kevin Harvick wins at Charlotte while Keselowski, Johnson and Earnhardt on brink of elimination

For Harvick, Saturday’s triumph paid off with triple dividends: He finally won a Chase race, moved on to the Eliminator Round before Talladega, and booted a big monkey of recent bad luck off his shoulders.

“They’re all character building moments,” Harvick said. “Winning is easy. As a team and usually when the nights go your way, they go your way. There’s just no way that the bad luck could continue to haunt us like (it had).

“I preach that to these guys and have been around this deal long enough to know that we’re very fortunate to be in the position that we’re in with fast cars and doing the things that we’re doing. Sure, we might have to tweak on a few things and tonight we were able to capitalize on all those things we pulled the trigger on.

“But in the end if you have fast cars the results will come with it. You just have to wait it out. I think tonight proved to us that we can do every situation that was presented to us and overcome it.

“Sure, we want to win every week, but in the end, still, there’s only one goal, and that’s to put the trophy in the back of your truck at Homestead and drive it home.”

Harvick and Childers are an interesting pairing. Harvick is outspoken, while Childers is more of the analytical, sit back and watch how things play out kind of guy.

And while Childers pumps up Harvick when misfortune strikes during races, Harvick has pumped up Childers after races that haven’t played out the way both hoped due to yet another issue of bad luck.

“I tell (Childers) every week at lunch, Monday when we get back and we’ve had something crazy happen,” Harvick said. “You get back, and I’m like, bottom line is we have a fast car and we can win every race.

“We’ll just keep working on everything and try to get it all worked out, and hopefully by the end of the year you have everything worked out and you can race for a championship and be in position to race for that championship at Homestead.

“When you have fast cars, everything else takes care of itself eventually. Bad luck can’t haunt you forever.”

Childers admitted to reporters that he appreciates Harvick’s cheerleading efforts in light of misfortune, particularly once a race is over and they move on to preparations for the next one.

“One thing that I get almost every Sunday night or Saturday night, and it’s a text message (from Harvick) that says, the problems that we have are a lot better than the problems we don’t have,” Childers said. “As soon as I get that message or as soon as he says that, it flips a switch, I move to the next week, all the guys move to the next week and we go try to build the fastest car we can and move on.

“A lot of people have focused on the things that have happened to us, but we’ve had a lot of good – a lot more good stuff happen to us than bad stuff. We’re really fortunate to be in this situation or fortunate to have good cars and good engines and just a bunch of guys that just want to work hard and win races, and that’s really hard to get. Like I said, (Harvick’s) the ring leader of that and does a really good job.”

Harvick, who has been known to raise his temper a few times in his career, likes the way the Chase is progressing in the first year of its new format – particularly the elimination part of it.

MORE: Matt Kenseth tangles with Brad Keselowski in Charlotte post-race fight

He was a bit surprised that normally mild-mannered Matt Kenseth was so physical with Brad Keselowski after Saturday’s race, but it’s a byproduct of the new format and lends itself to such drama and emotion.

“When you see Matt Kenseth mad enough to fight, you know that this is intense because that’s way out of character for him,” Harvick quipped. “Brad basically took a right and shoved him into the fence.

“When you see that happen, I think that every moment matters in this Chase, and Matt Kenseth knew that that one particular moment could have been the end of his Chase. That’s the bottom line. That’s how intense this whole Chase is.

“… When you see that emotion out of Matt Kenseth, you know that NASCAR has done the right thing to this Chase because everybody is on offense and gouging for every single position that you can get every lap.”

But don’t expect NASCAR to hand any penalties to Kenseth or Keselowski, Harvick added.

“That’s crazy, they love it,” Harvick said. “They were fighting afterwards. That’s what it’s all about. No way (there’s any penalties resulting).

“In the car you make a decision, you see somebody coming, you block him, you shove him in the fence and you suffer the circumstances as you go forward. You know, I would say if the 2 goes forward, 20 wrecks him, no doubt.”

With Saturday’s win, Harvick can now relax and not worry so much about how Talladega will play out. He’s on to the next round regardless.

“I’m parking it and watching it,” Harvick said. “It’s going to be fun to watch. It’s going to be crazy, offensive racing.

“… We’ve just hit a home run and made it all happen, still had a fast car, parked it in victory lane, and that’s what it’s all about. Great time of year to do it.”

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.