AVONDALE, Ariz. — Saying that he has “no problem” with the way Brad Keselowski races, Kevin Harvick attempted to set the record straight about last weekend’s post-race shove that fueled an already-heated situation between Jeff Gordon and Keselowski.
“I have no problem with the move and the way Brad races,” Harvick said. “I think he races hard. I think that is what we are all supposed to do and, in those (situations), you would probably do the same thing.
“The problem is, knowing that there’s going to be controversy, you can’t just turn your back and walk away, pretend it didn’t happen and blame it on somebody else. That’s not how it works.”
Keselowski’s aggressive pass of Gordon at Texas Motor Speedway resulted in a cut tire and Gordon settling for a 29th-place finish instead of battling for a victory that would have assured him a place in next week’s Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Harvick said he has been in a similar situation when it comes to confronting Keselowski about on-track incidents.
“It just kind of rubs me the wrong way when you … turn your back on situations and walk off and mumble your way off into no man’s land and not just handle the situation,” Harvick said. “I’ve had him turn his back on me and just walk off.”
Harvick, who said he was “leaning back, kind of taking it all in,” during Sunday’s Texas pit road feud, said he didn’t want to see Keselowski dodge an issue with another driver, in this case, Gordon.
“If you are going to run into people all the time, you are going to have to fight your own fight,” Harvick said at Texas. “So I helped him get into it.”
Performing his best Eddie Haskell, Harvick pushed Keselowski toward Gordon and surrounding team members, instigating fisticuffs, then slipped off to the background of the incident.
“It kind of rubbed me the wrong way and I reacted,” Harvick said.
Harvick conceded he might have handled the situation differently and did not seem particularly proud that his actions merited him a new Twitter hashtag in his honor —
#Harvicking — as in the act of pushing another from behind.
“I’d rather not have a hashtag named after me, to be honest with you,” he said.
“But I never look back on something as a regret. I think you look back at them as lessons. Things happen and you have to react. I think, as you look at (this) situation, I probably could have handled it differently.”
Understanding the importance of this Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway (3 p.m. ET on ESPN), Harvick says he has moved on.
“One thing about this sport is you have to get over things quick,” he said.
“The competitor in me loves the controversy. The Dad in me doesn’t enjoy the hashtag. In the end, it’s a different path for me to have to go home and realize that one day I’ll have to answer those questions (about this incident) from my son. But live and learn.”
Despite finishing second at Texas, Harvick finds himself needing a similar showing this weekend to advance to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Championship Round race at Homestead. A 33rd-place finish at Martinsville continues to haunt him.
Although occupying the bottom of the standings among the eight remaining title contenders, Harvick is hardly out of the points battle, sitting only six points behind Gordon, who currently mans the fourth and final transfer spot to Homestead.
Furthermore, Harvick has been dominant at Phoenix, winning three of the last four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at the 1-mile tri-oval, including the March 2 race. A win Sunday would propel any of the eight Chase-contending drivers to the Championship Round.
“I don’t think you could pick a better racetrack for us to come to try to win a race,” Harvick said.
“I think you need to win this weekend. That would leave a lot less in everybody else’s hands. I think we are very capable of winning this race and we have been fortunate to have a lot of success here in the past (including) the first race this year.”
As if to serve notice, Harvick posted the best time in Friday’s 90-minute practice with a fastest lap of 121.521 mph. Keselowski was third fastest behind Kyle Larson.