As the leader in the Sprint Cup point race, Kevin Harvick lives in a position of comfort. He can afford to have a bad race or two, and he can ignore – more or less – the idea that some drivers might be seeking revenge this weekend for last week’s chaos at Infineon Raceway.
Harvick has been the point leader since May 1, and he continues to hammer out high finishes with championship-like consistency. Sixteen races into the season – and with 10 races to go until the Chase for the Sprint Cup starts, he leads second-place Jimmie Johnson by 140 points.
After a wild race last week at Infineon, some drivers – most notably Martin Truex Jr., whose day was spoiled by contact from Jeff Gordon – were talking payback for Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“You just assume that everybody is angry at everybody,” Harvick said Friday. “After that race, it would be hard to keep track. There are so many to tally up after last week, it would be hard to keep track of what’s going on.
“You just go out and you race hard, and if something happens, something happens. But if something’s going to happen, you can pretty much tell what’s going to go on, so you just keep your eyes open.”
In talking about last week’s race, Harvick took a shot at Joey Logano. They’ve famously been feuding.
"I went back and watched the race, and it looked like the majority of them [accidents] had the No. 24 [Gordon] involved, and I saw the No. 20 [Logano] get dumped again for running in the side of somebody, so that one hasn't changed,” he said. “So, I think it was just good racing, honestly. It was probably one of the most exciting road course races that I’ve watched. I think the double-file restarts create a lot of that. And the tire fall-off creates the other part of that.
“You have so many different strategies. People pit and don’t pit, and then you have cars passing each other and staying out, and you have a whole bunch of things going on. I think the tires falling off had has much to do with that as anything, and the double-file restarts promoted a lot of that. Rough racing. I like that kind of racing. I think it’s great.”
Harvick, who has one win this season, said his goal over the next 10 weeks is to add to his victory total to gain more bonus points for the Chase.
“Obviously, we’re in a good position points-wise right now,” he said. “We’ve just got to put ourselves in position to win another race or two before the Chase gets started and also in that time advance our cars a little bit as we get through the next few weeks and into the Chase.”
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEEDtv.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.