By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
FORT WORTH, Texas – Kevin Harvick’s eventful evening that included a tangle with polesitter Austin Dillon, ended with a sixth-place finish in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The 1.5-mile oval has been plagued with bad weather on race weekends recently and Sunday proved to be no different, but once the event got underway, Harvick, who qualified third, looked like a contender for the win in the early stages.
However, the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion lost pace to the Toyota’s of Martin Truex Jr. and eventual race winner Carl Edwards, fading down the running order.
It was on lap 264 when Harvick’s No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet made contact with the No. 3 Realtree/Bad Boy Chevrolet of Austin Dillon. The pair came out of Turn 4 as Dillon received a tap on the back bumper from Harvick, sending him into the SAFER Barrier, causing heavy damage which forced him to retire early with a 37th-place finish.
Harvick immediately came onto the radio and said the incident was unintentional.
“He checked up in front of me,” Harvick said.
However, Dillon believes different.
“He didn’t like that a silver-spoon kid was out-running him tonight,” Dillon said.
Harvick heads into Phoenix International Raceway, a place he has won at eight times, 18 points behind Kyle Busch for the final transfer spot for the championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The reality that he is in a likely ‘must win’ scenario wasn’t lost on Dillon’s crew chief, Slugger Labbe, who could be heard over the team radio saying, “We are going to Phoenix and he is going to need a win and we don’t.”
Following the race, Harvick continued to echo that the incident wasn’t on purpose.
“All in all, there was no intent there,” Harvick said. “I like racing with Austin. I like everything that they do. There was no reason [for anything to happen]. I was running seventh and sixth. I mean, we were on a restart there and he slid up and got loose, and I hit the back of him.”
Having delivered on several occasions throughout the past few seasons in ‘must win’ situations and having never been knocked out of the Chase in his career, Harvick is aiming to continue his success at Phoenix.
“We’ve done it, I don’t know how many times. So, we’re just going to go there and do what we always do and race as hard as we can.”