Saturday, September 25, 2010
Kevin Harvick sideswipes Denny Hamlin
By David Newton ESPN.com
DOVER, Del. -- Richard Childress Racing driver Kevin Harvick tried to show Denny Hamlin that you can move the tolerance of a Sprint Cup car with a bump from another.
Harvick rammed the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing car twice in the right rear quarterpanel, then sideswiped him during the first lap of Saturday's practice at Dover International Speedway.
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It was an apparent retaliation for Hamlin's comment on Friday that Clint Bowyer's RCR team intentionally violated NASCAR's tolerances by 60/1000ths of an inch with its winning car at New Hampshire, a week after being warned at Richmond the car was close to violating rules.
"He got into me on pit road before we went on the track," Hamlin said Saturday. "So I knew we were going to have to deal with some issues."
The governing body docked Bowyer 150 points Wednesday and suspended crew chief Shane Wilson for six weeks. RCR officials have appealed the fine, saying the illegalities could have been caused by a bump from another car during the race or the wrecker that pushed the car to Victory Lane after it ran out of gas. Bowyer's appeal is set for Wednesday.
Hamlin didn't agree with RCR's explanation, saying on Friday, "In the garage, everyone has known it for months. It's not two weeks old. This is something that's been going on for months. They've been warned for a long time, way before Richmond.
"This is not something that, 'Oh man, they just told us halfway after Richmond and going into Loudon that our car's wrong,' " Hamlin added. "They knew it was wrong way before that and I felt like they just, they wanted to get everything they could. What did they have to lose really?"
NASCAR officials met with both drivers while their cars were being fixed for the second practice.
Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick exchanged pleasantries after their on-track run-in at Dover.
"I spoke my mind [Friday] and felt like I said a lot of truth and a lot of times that's not popular with the teams that are involved," Hamlin said Saturday. "It's something I've always done is speak my mind. It's not always in my best interest to do that."
RCR owner Richard Childress said there were no team orders, but added, "We're all a good tight-knit group."
Harvick echoed that sentiment after the incidents, "[We're] a tight bunch. It's always been that way.''
"You can't win a pissing match with a skunk," Childress said. "You don't throw a rock if you live in a glass house."
Team orders or not, Hamlin seemed to expect his Saturday afternoon treatment.
"I had a hint," Hamlin said. "Their crew guys they stare and made little comments through the day, 'Good luck today.' "
Harvick and Hamlin, whose cars are parked next to each other in the garage, confronted each other with words and bumped chests after the incident.
"There was a lot of cursing. That's all that was really being said," Hamlin said of the off-the-track scuffle. "There was nothing really logical being said inside with the two teams. Nothing is ever going to come of it."
Hamlin, according to eyewitnesses, also got into it with RCR general manager Mike Dillon.
"I wouldn't even think of doing that to Mike Dillon," Childress said with a smile. "You are going after a bull if you go after him."
Cup series director John Darby and other NASCAR officials separated the drivers and talked to both before the second practice.
Darby told NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston that the issue was handled and no further penalties are expected, although that could change when the governing body reviews the weekend activities Tuesday.
Harvick is second in points, 45 behind leader Hamlin. Hamlin's car received damage to the right rear quarterpanel. Harvick had damage to his left nose and side panel.
Both used primary cars for the second practice.
"The thing is now is move on," Hamlin said. "We get our car fixed and we're obviously getting our speed back and our goal is to move on."
With the practice lap flap behind him, Harvick also seems focused on the Chase. When asked if he was concerned that tangling with Hamlin might affect his chances, Harvick shook his head no, smiling, and said, "Ran just as fast.''
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.