Talladega is already a stressful race. Add the fact that it’s also a Chase elimination race and the stress factor rises even more. That makes sense. That’s a given. That way, in a sense, the disagreement between Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick following the Hellmann’s 500 on Sunday almost has some merit, even if they are Stewart-Haas Racing teammates.
Keep in mind the key word in that sentence is “almost.” Regardless of the circumstances, the tradeoff following the checkered flag between Harvick and Busch was pointless, to be honest. It had no merit, no point, no reason. Busch was upset because Harvick wasn’t working with him coming to the finish and ran into him following the race. Harvick responded by confronting Busch while he was still in his No. 41 Chevy. It was an added bit of drama that really didn’t need to be added.
It’s understandable why Busch was upset, but truthfully, restrictor-plate racing isn’t a guarantee that teammates will act like teammates. This isn’t Formula One, where team orders are blatant and part of the norm. That’s not saying that team orders aren’t in NASCAR (Does anyone remember Richmond in September 2013?). On the contrary, NASCAR drivers are supposed to chase their own glory, and if a team happens to do good because of a teammate, well, yay. Great job everyone.
Although Busch is a great teammate to others and has done an awesome job working with his teammates (just ask Ryan Newman), he’s a smart enough, established racer who knows that sometimes things aren’t going to go as planned. It isn’t like he’s completely innocent in not working with a teammate either; just ask Greg Biffle about the 2004 All-Star race at Charlotte, where then-teammate Busch not only took him out but several other drivers with one boneheaded bump.
But Harvick isn’t a saint either. He’s fiery; yes, that’s great and that’s one of the reasons he’s loved as much as he is. But it’s not really entertaining anymore. It honestly stopped being entertaining around 2005. That said, he still continues to respond to situations in a zero-to-100 manner, in that his first knee-jerk response is to fly into a rage when he’s mad. Ask Jimmie Johnson following the first Chase race of 2015.
That can be understood on a rare occasion. But Harvick’s been around long enough to know what’s necessary in the right situations. Storming over and swinging at a teammate or teammate’s car wouldn’t fall into that category, not without knowing the reasons why at first. It’s easy to see why he was mad: Busch drove up to him and gave him a heart smack on the right side, so why shouldn’t he be mad? But even Busch can attest that cooler heads should prevail.
This doesn’t scream dissension and unease in the SHR camp, and this doesn’t look like the revival of an old rivalry. This is nothing more than a misunderstanding between teammates, albeit a ridiculous one. Both drivers are fiery, talented drivers, one of whom just so happens to flat-out love to fight. But even Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards cleared the air by the end of the Chase in 2007, back when they were Roush Fenway Racing teammates. By Martinsville, Harvick and Busch will be back to just being teammates. They hit a bump Sunday, even if it was a rather dumb one, but they get along great as teammates and shouldn’t let something like this get in the way of their chemistry.