Monday, October 28, 2013

Childress And Harvick Deserved A Better End

Since confirming in November of last year that Kevin Harvick would leave Richard Childress Racing for a new position with Stewart Haas Racing in 2014, both driver and team have provided a case study in how to dissolve partnerships in a professional, dignified manner. They have steadfastly avoided the kind of second-guessing and finger pointing that doomed other “lame duck” teams in the past, setting new standards for civility and competitiveness while winning races and qualifying for this year’s Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Unfortunately, all that good will went out the window in the blink of an eye Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.

When Harvick and Ty Dillon tangled in the waning laps of Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series “Kroger 200,” it unleashed an eruption of animosity and ill-will that has apparently simmered beneath the surface for quite some time.

Driving in a one-off role for NTS Motorsports, Harvick tangled with Dillon while racing for second place Saturday, causing both drivers to crash out of contention. Dillon, grandson of team owner Richard Childress, rammed Harvick repeatedly after the crash, while Childress goaded him via in-car radio to “turn (Harvick’s) ass over.”

Harvick drove his damaged truck to pit road and stopped briefly in Dillon's pit stall, where he was swarmed by several members of the RCR crew. Heated words were exchanged before NASCAR officials intervened, and one of Dillon’s crewmen hurled a hammer at Harvick. After the race, an angry Harvick leveled charges of nepotism against RCR, calling Dillon and older brother Austin “punk-ass kids” and Saturday’s incident, "exactly the reason why I'm leaving RCR.

“You've got those kids coming up, and they've got no respect for what they do in this sport,” said Harvick. “They've had everything fed to them with a spoon."

Childress responded angrily, saying he was "very disappointed" in Harvick’s comments and conduct. "I've got too much class to say what I want to say right now,” claimed the longtime NASCAR team owner. “When I say it, I will say it to (Harvick’s) face."

Harvick apologized for his comments the following day, telling FOX Sports 1’s NASCAR RACEDAY, “I hate it for everybody at RCR. When you go back and look at the things that happened, sometimes you regret the things that you say. Yesterday was definitely one of them.

“I hate it for my guys, and everybody working on the cars,” said Harvick, a 13-year RCR employee. “Obviously, when those emotional situations come about, you say things that you really don't want to say. I want to apologize to all of those guys (and ask them to) work hard today and try and do everything we can to win the race.”

While confirming that Harvick will finish the season in the No. 29 Chevrolet, Childress stressed Sunday that his longtime driver’s comments are unlikely to be forgotten.

"What happened on the track was one thing, but the comments afterward are where I'm really upset,” he said. “I'll never apologize for giving my grandsons an opportunity, just like the France family, the Earnhardt family, the Wood Brothers. Go down the list of the people that have been given opportunities (and) all of them didn't make it. You've got to go out and earn what you've got... and these boys earned it."

Childress said he spoke with Harvick Sunday morning and will give him “everything humanly possible to win that championship. I'm committed to him for four more races,” he said. “I shook his hand and committed I'd give him 100 percent, and I'm going to do it. But I'm not going to be backed into a corner.”

After 13 years and a laundry list of successes -- on and off the racetrack – both Childress and Harvick deserved a better end that what happened Saturday in Virginia. Unfortunately, both men were betrayed by the same competitive nature that made them so successful to begin with.

I didn't do the right thing yesterday,” admitted Harvick. “I think it's best for all of us to just cool down and have a sensible conversation about things. I wish that's what I would have done yesterday... but I don't have anybody else to blame but myself."


  1. Anonymous11:22 AM

    open mouth insert foot.

  2. Anonymous11:30 AM

    He just said what everyone else was thinking.

    It would be nice if Cup drivers were chosen due to their abilities on the track and not just their ability to bring money to the table.

    1. Anonymous9:28 PM

      Truck Series Champ, El Dora winner. Yup, No on track ability...

    2. Austin was chosen for his ability. He has dirt track wins, Arca wins, truck wins, truck championship, and is currently leading the nationwide points standings. If they didn't have ability RC would yank him out of the car and Austin would probably be working in an office at RCR! RC will tell you that he's seen The Sprint Cup Series make millionaires out of billionaires!

    3. How do you figure! Both Austin and Ty are competitive and running for championships.

  3. Good job Dave you hit the nail on the head. Tempers got the better of them

  4. Mike Bush11:36 AM

    was childress happy with what ty had said about kevin? or is that ok for one but not the other? its a 2 way street and yes the dillon boys have had sucess but u cant say they have not had the best of the best all along the way!!! ya cant say that doesnt help! and i do believe the dillon boys are punks and dont appreciate whats been given to them and they do need to earn respect out there , not demand it like they feel they are owed because grandpa will take care of things and make it all better.

  5. Dwayne in Memphis11:37 AM

    C'mon, Richard. Seriously?

    "I've got too much class to say what I want to say right now" You mean things said during the yellow-flag ramming...while Childress goaded him via in-car radio to “turn (Harvick’s) @$$ over.”

    1. Blood is thicker than water.

    2. True, but taking the high ground with the "class" comment seems just a tad hypocritical.

    3. Dwayne in Memphis12:45 PM

      I agree...and I'll go one step further. I don't know Ty or Austin either one. So for me, Kevin can be absolutely dead on, or absolutely dead wrong. But the name over the door is Richard Childress the way I see it, he can put whoever he wants in that car for whatever reason he chooses. Grandkids with some ability seems as good a reason as any. But with his name on the company, he doesn't have to justify to me who's in the car, right? So, like I said, Kevin might dead on or dead wrong - but (like you said) blood is thicker than water, and it's grandpa's company. If you can't handle that, do what Kevin did and go drive somewhere else. And if you don't like that, then start your own race team and woo RCR's sponsors from them. Until then, root for someone else if you don't like it and get over it. This is far from the first time that geneology and last names got someone a ride that someone else thought they didn't deserve. The options are still the it or lump it. It's Richard's team.

    4. Anonymous12:53 PM

      And, THAT is what Harvick should have said. The rest of the world can read between those lines rather easily. My guess is this has been simmering for more than a little while......

    5. My understanding is that RC told Ty to do that after Harvick ran into Ty under caution and that is when Ty kept ramming Harvick!

  6. Anonymous11:47 AM

    Great article, Dave, and I think you have it absolutely correct. I think this has been simmering for a couple of years. I also believe that the crew member you mention that threw the hammer needs some further attending to as well. Fists are one thing, but if he is capable of throwing a hammer at someone, what else is he capable of doing?

  7. Anonymous12:04 PM

    Great article as always Dave and I agree.

  8. I will be upfront that I am a Kevin Harvick fan from his first race in 2001, and I have enjoyed watching him race and seeing him mature over the years from the low of 2002 at Martinsville to owning championship race teams and becoming a father. However, he did screw up Saturday with his comments

    I understood him being angry after seemingly being punted at the end of the race, but when he brought up the nepotism angle with the grandsons I thought "Uh oh, this is not good." I am glad he apologized and that he and RC talked before the race. They need to finish this season the best way they can, as there is too much at stake for both men.

    Even though he was wrong in airing his thoughts publicly like he did, I am not so sure that he didn't voice what so many in the garage had been thinking for so long. There was a reason that Clint Bowyer left, that Kevin made a deal to go drive for his friend, and now you have Jeff Burton being forced out. People can see the handwriting on the wall when they are that close to the situation, no matter if the boss sees it differently.

  9. Anonymous12:37 PM

    Now all the drivers with big mouths in the same stable,Stewart,Harvick,and Kurt Busch.

  10. Anonymous1:12 PM

    the sport needs more harvicks and the biff's and less dillon's in the sport then nascrap will have real racers again

  11. Greg Sherer1:20 PM

    I have really liked the demeaner of the Dillon boys since they started racing in NASCAR, especially Austin. He has always been well spoken, mannerly, and seems as though he respects the veteran drivers who have been in the sport a lot longer than he has. As far as Ty goes, he put on a good front, but to me, the jury was still out on him. Saturday he showed more of his true self. Was Harvick suppose to give up that spot to Dillon because Dillon is in the championship hunt? I don't think so. Harvick, as all other racers, is too much of a competitor to do that. Not happening. If Dillon could do it cleanly, then great. He earned the spot. But, he didn't. He decided to spin Harvick. The problem was, he got spun too. It's too bad Harvick mis-spoke after the incident, but it was obviously something he has been feeling for a while. He had seen the writing on the wall, so to speak. He has a tendency to say what he's thinking when he is mad. That's Kevin. I lost some respect for Ty Dillon, and Richard Childress in this incident. If Childress is going to run his team this way, then I could see some trouble down the road.

  12. Anonymous2:35 PM

    did nascar do anything to guy that threw the hammer?

  13. well said, Dave. Blood is definitely thicker than water. And you can't un-ring a bell. Should serve as a reminder to all of us. Take a breath...maybe three or four....and then consider the ramifications before we speak.

  14. Anonymous3:28 PM

    What is all this talk of Bowyer, Harvick and Burton being "forced" out? How many teams keep drivers as long as RCR has? Burton has been with RCR for 8-9 years! And you have to admit he is not the strongest horse in the stable right now. Bowyer started his career with RCR in the Busch series, right? Then ran 7 seasons with them? Harvick, well RCR just gave him his break too, running him in the Busch series and then moving him up to Cup, raced for 11-12 series with him.
    Even Green Bay traded Brett Favre away...
    And Ty and Austin have done pretty well in the lower ranks, from winning in ARCA and trucks championships , rookie of the year.
    Ty was in the hunt for a championship in the trucks, now he is not, if I we're Childress I'd be steamed too. And Ty did try to back off Harvick but Crafton was STUFFED under his truck oushing him.
    Hope Ty and Dillon have long, winning careers in the sport.

    1. Anonymous6:07 PM

      not forced but can see where the team is going and harvick and bowyer looking out for their own future and can see no one at rcr but grandsons has a future. that's ok I understand that. but very crappy of rc to be mad at kevin for thinking of his own future and he was very mad that kevin announced last year that he was leaving I mean come on rc, you expect kevin to stay just for a couple more years just until you get the boys up and going and pass up a good ride with hendrick stuff

  15. Anonymous4:34 PM

    I can imagine the post race meetings of years ago when the two Dillon boys would walk in and grandpa Childress says to his current drivers "well boy's your lookin at the future of RCR with my two grandsons here". Each and every driver who has worked his heart and soul out to be in a seat at RCR just witnessed like most companies where the successors are family. We all know how this can end up... witness any family run race team... with a son or daughter driving. Harvick wasn't far off in finally getting something off his chest...

  16. Anonymous4:41 PM

    I just called your show Dave. You mentioned RC saying hold my watch. Well what was he fed up with? He was fed up with Kyle tearing up his equipment. Now he is telling his grandson to go turn Kevin over and tear up equipment. Yes blood is thicker than water but by RC saying that I feel he was just as bad . And he also lost his cool first even though Kevin didn't know it at the time.
    I hate that it happened and I still hope people can look at it that they have been a class act in their last year and not judge it all on this.

    Tim in Arkansas

  17. Anonymous5:11 PM

    I feel we need to look at the whole year and not base it on this one incident. They have been a class act and at least kept it civil for the most part. All of this took place during a hard beat and bang race. People get mad and say and do things that are stupid. RC told Ty to turn Kevin's ass over.(STUPID) Kevin said things after race about grandsons.(STUPID) But both things were said and done at the heat of the moment during and right after a hard nosed race.
    So Dave, I feel the title of your blog is just fueling it. They both can keep this a class act parting. Yes they deserve a better ending but its not over yet. They both done very stupid things on Saturday. One is bad as the other. But we have 3 races and an awards banquet to do and both of them can and I believe will handle it with class. If the media will let them.

  18. One has to wonder about how professional Harvick will be down the road for his new team, since in his 13 seasons with RCR he really hasn't been much of a professional.

  19. Anonymous7:34 PM

    Harvick has and always will be a Punk. He has no room to talk.

  20. Anonymous9:36 PM

    As soon as it happened, I wanted to cover my ears... LALALALA!!! This isn't going down.... Ouch. Its going down.

    Phil Parsons' first comments after the mess were the same exact words I had in my mind. You can't take it back when you say that. You can't take it back when you get that personal.

    It was sad to see. I hate it for everyone involved.

    The banquet could get interesting. Everyone getting a bit lubed up and all.

  21. Sorry, but I think Kevin has been waiting for the opportunity to say what he said after the race.

  22. Geosez10:32 AM

    I don't have a dog in this fight, but in the interest of being "fair and balanced" -- like one of your callers on Monday, I also heard Ty say that Harvick hadn't done anything for RCR. Anybody else? Other than that -- it was all very unfortunate.

  23. Anonymous12:19 PM

    Good article Dave. Im not a Harvick or a Childress fan so their future sucess really doesnt matter to me. What I have seen out of Ty is if he turns someone its just good hard racing but when he gets turned its all about them not showing respect and he runs to Grandpa. I think both Dillion boys have talent but feel Austin is far ahead of Ty and probably neither would be where they are at without Grandpa's name and money. Its always easier to run up front in the best equipment. Put either in a under funded development team and they would be mid pack at best. What Harvick said im sure has been brewing inside of him for awhile.

  24. Anonymous12:27 PM

    Kevin should have shown some restraint in his comments but I also feel Childress needs to be called on the carpet for his comment about turn him upside down. Alot of talk about Harvick not being a team player what about the owner telling one teammate to wreck another. This proves Harvicks decision to leave Childress was a good one because by that statement it shows what kind of an owner Childress is. Hope his Cup program fails miserably for the next several years.

  25. Anonymous4:16 PM

    More BS from the second tier of NASCAR teams. That's what happens when you think fighting is the only way to solve problems. It always seems RC and his team are always mixing it up with each other or everyone else. What a joke.