Kevin Harvick Talks About Decision To Defend Team At Dover

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Kevin Harvick: ‘Sometimes You Have To Do What You Think Is Right'

Kevin Harvick has moved on from his Dover incident with Denny Hamlin, the Richard Childress Racing driver said Thursday afternoon during an appearance to promote next month's Martinsville Speedway race.

"I think everybody saw what he said," Harvick said of Hamlin's comments that the two had spoken and were friends outside the racetrack. "I think it's all done."

A local reporter tried to follow up, but Harvick said he wouldn't comment further on Hamlin.

"If you ask it 14 different ways, you'll probably get the same answer," he said. "So write down the next one."

But asked about his motivation to retaliate against Hamlin for his comments, Harvick said he felt the need to defend the RCR organization.

"Anytime you have a company or you have people, there's a lot of things you feel good about being a part of," he said. "Sometimes you have to do what you think is right for the company or the people.

"Our team didn't really have anything to do with it, to tell you the truth. To be drug into it was probably the switch that ignited the fire and the things that happened."

Harvick also said he was frustrated after Dover last week because he finished 15th on a day when he had a top-10 car, costing him valuable points in the championship hunt.

"We knew that going into last week, it was probably going to be the worst (Chase track)," he said. "We felt like we had a top-10 car and it just got away from us there at the end.

"Those are the days that you don't need to have those things happen. If you have a top-10 car, you'd better finish in the top 10. We let some points slip away we probably shouldn't have."

As a result, Harvick is in fifth place, 65 points behind leader Hamlin after the first two Chase races. Fortunately, the next two weeks are good tracks for his No. 29 team.

The goal now, he said, is to make sure he's "not any further behind than we are right now when we come out of California."

"(The deficit) doesn't need to get in the triple digits by the time it's halfway," he said.

To that end, Harvick's strategy will be to look at his day compared with whoever is leading the points – regardless of where the other Chase drivers in the top five finish.

"(The leader) is the guy I want to come out gaining points on," he said. "Whether you lose points to fourth or fifth, I feel our gap has to come down the next two weeks to whoever the leader is."

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Statement: Panel Explains Why It Denied Clint Bowyer's Appeal And Sided With NASCAR

The National Stock Car Racing Commission heard Richard Childress Racing's appeal of the Clint Bowyer penalty on Wednesday at NASCAR's Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C.

The appeals board was made up of three impartial people from the racing world who are rotated through various hearings. Today, the board was made up of John Capels (former USAC officials), Lyn St. James (former IndyCar driver) and Waddell Wilson (former NASCAR engine builder/crew chief).

On Wednesday evening, the appeals board issued the following statement to explain what happened in the hearing and why it denied RCR's appeal:

On September 29, 2010, the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel heard and considered the appeal of Richard Childress Racing regarding four penalties issued by NASCAR relative to the #33 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car. This stemmed from post-race inspection following a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Raceway on September 21, 2010.

The penalties concern Section 12-1 of the NASCAR Rule Book "Actions detrimental to stock car racing."; Section 12-4-J: "Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR Rules"; and Section 20-3: "The car body location specifications in reference to the certified chassis does not meet the NASCAR-approved specifications."

The penalties assessed were:

• Loss of 150 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Car Owner points for owner, Richard Childress

• Loss of 150 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Driver points for driver, Clint Bowyer

• $150,000 fine; suspension from the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until November 3, 2010; and probation until December 31, 2010 for crew chief Shane Wilson

• Suspension from the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until November 3, 2010; and probation until December 31, 2010 for crew member Chad Haney

The Appellants requested and were granted a deferral of the suspensions and fine until such time as this hearing could be convened.

The Appellants did not contest that the car measured out of specifications upon inspection.

The Appellants argued that, having received a warning about the car body of the #33 car being "too close" following the Richmond race, that it was inconceivable that they would bring a non-conforming car to New Hampshire.

They argued that the left rear frame member was actually bent upward as a result of the car being pushed towards Victory Lane by a wrecker after the post-race burnouts, which resulted in the left rear measurement "hard point" being too high. To this end, they also presented an accident reconstruction specialist to demonstrate that a wrecker might bend up the left rear strut in the trunk under certain conditions. The specialists, however, indicated that such an occurrence would strictly affect the left rear because of the match-up between the wrecker pushbar and the angle of the racecar's rear bumper. He went on to say that the corresponding right rear measurements should not be affected, in his view, nor the frame member deformed as a team representative had alleged.

The Appellants also contested the severity and timing of the penalty.

Claims that the wrecker caused the infraction were negated by the telemetry from the car which did not show a sharp impact spike; by the fact that the rear template still fit snugly across the entire rear of the car; by a visual inspection of the rear of the car which showed nothing of note in the way of damage; and a visual review of the videotape of post race assistance tendered by the wrecker which appeared as relatively gentle pushing.

Of significance to the Panel were some additional facts which came to light during the hearing. Particularly of note were the facts that both rear hard points, left and right, were high, and that the rear of the body was offset on the frame.

The Panel found that the penalties were consistent for infractions of this magnitude.

Therefore, it is the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel to uphold the original penalties.

The periods of suspension shall be adjusted from the date of the hearing.

The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer. The Appellants submitted such a request and the fee immediately after the conclusion of the hearing.

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Diarrhea Of The Mouth? Denny Hamlin Admits He Says Too Much

As soon as Denny Hamlin walked out of the Dover media center on Friday, he knew.

He knew he'd done it again – opened his mouth just a little too wide, said a little too much.

"Son of a...!" Hamlin said, recalling how he feels after realizing his mistake. "You know what I mean? It's just immediately like, ‘God dang it!' There was such an easier way to say your piece."

This time, the comments were about Clint Bowyer and Richard Childress Racing – words that led to an on-track incident and garage confrontation with Kevin Harvick.

Though it didn't affect Hamlin's Dover finish, his team had to spend 30 minutes of valuable practice time fixing the car after the run-in with Harvick.

"I wonder how I get myself in these positions sometimes," Hamlin said Tuesday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "It's my personality. I've been in this (saying too much) crap for years now. I do this all the time!"

As soon as his media availability on Friday was over, Hamlin said he knew there would be repercussions – whether on the track or in the form of a phone call from Richard Childress himself.

By then, though, it was too late to change anything.

"But what are you gonna do?" he said. "There's nothing I could do at that point other than just deal with whatever."

It's all a part of a learning experience for the soon-to-be 30-year-old Virginian, who has always prided himself on being honest and speaking the truth but has learned lately that's not always the best policy.

Just this weekend, team owner Joe Gibbs sat down with Hamlin and told him that through the former coach's experience from his NFL coaching days, he learned sometimes it was better just to deflect questions rather than answer them directly.

"It's a tough balance – it is hard for me to not just say what's on my mind sometimes," Hamlin said. "But it's like, not everybody needs to hear it all the time. Joe kind of explained that to me: ‘Not everybody needs to hear what you have to say, even when you think things are going wrong.'"

That sounds like bad news for fans who enjoy Hamlin's candid nature and who complain there are too many vanilla drivers in NASCAR. If you've ever heard Hamlin speak for a few minutes, you know he's not one of them.

But Hamlin said he's come to realize that "not all of (the fans)" appreciate hearing him speak his mind.

"Listening to my own press conference even from this weekend, it's like, ‘Man, that was kind of harsh,'" he said. "Maybe I should have just kind of deflected. I watched Jimmie (Johnson's) press conference, and a lot of other guys before and after me, and they just kind of deflected. When (the Bowyer questions) came to them, they just kind of shielded themselves from it, said their piece and got it over with.

"I sat down and I was going to say, ‘Alright, no Bowyer questions.' But then someone said something like, ‘Hey, he said this about you (failing inspection),' and immediately I was like, ‘Whoa, wait a minute! What?' I sat up in my seat and got defensive."

Suddenly, Hamlin went from hoping to stay above the fray to diving in and fueling the fire – answering a jab with a punch. He became motivated to "stick up for my race team first, and then...throw (RCR) under the bus second."

"Really," he said, looking back, "I should have deflected it and let (Bowyer) say his piece."

With a few days having passed since his comments, Hamlin said part of him laughs at what happened and the other part kicks himself for it, adding, "It was too much trouble for what it was worth."

Fortunately, he said Harvick is willing to move on. Hamlin said the two drivers are actually quite friendly away from the track, with each helping the other's charity foundation (Hamlin recently played in Harvick's charity Pro-Am golf tournament).

"Our friendship goes further than (the Dover incident)," he said. "Regardless of teams mad, anyone mad, we do a lot for each other off the racetrack, and I feel like that goes a long way."

Hamlin and Harvick have already spoken by phone to clear the air, with the two drivers coming to a quick conclusion that they should be chasing four-time champion Johnson around the track instead of each other.

"I think that's the point we came to: If we keep messing around, we're going to let someone else win this thing," Hamlin said.

So though he injected himself into the controversy at Dover, Hamlin said it's all part of the learning experience for a driver who hopes to become a NASCAR champion soon.

"Everything I've screwed up over the last few years," he said, "whether it's wrecking in the Chase, worrying about where other guys are at, saying my piece – every single one of them is a learning experience that will make me better for later on. And I know that."

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Denny Hamlin Shreds Clint Bowyer's Defense Theory; Jimmie Chimes In

After Clint Bowyer claimed that the New Hampshire cars of Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin were also illegal because they had to go through the height sticks twice after the race, Bowyer's competitors responded with far different reactions.

Hamlin shredded Bowyer's team along with Richard Childress Racing's defense theory, saying he was certain Bowyer's team had crossed the line. Johnson basically shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't care.

"They should be happy they're even in the Chase at this point," Hamlin said. "They were warned, and they were warned before Richmond. Everyone in the garage knows that. They're the ones who wanted to press the issue and get all they could to make sure they got into the Chase. They got in it, and then they got busted when they kept going with it."

Hamlin rejected RCR's "the tow truck did it" theory, saying that a tow truck damaged his No. 11 car much worse at Atlanta but it still didn't affect the car's legality.

"I think they're just trying to salvage their season (with the excuse), basically," Hamlin said, adding it was a "crock" to think that wouldn't provide Bowyer a performance advantage. "I understand that whole appeal process they're going to go through. There has to be a point where it's black and white, it's no longer gray. If they let them get away with this 60-thousandths of an inch, then where do you stop?

"There has to be a point where you say, 'This is the tolerance, if you go past it, you're in trouble.' If they let him go, they're going to open up the whole field to let them do what they want."

While it is possible that a car built very close to going over the line could sustain damage during a race and therefore become illegal, Hamlin said that's the risk teams take.

"Some teams choose to get closer to that line than others. There are things that happen out on the racetrack, there are variables that happen during the race that could make you be wrong. But that's your risk.

"If you're going to go out on the racetrack where it's like, 'One bump and my car is illegal,' that's a risk that ain't worth taking. That's why we don't do it with our organization."

As for his own car being illegal at New Hampshire, Hamlin said NASCAR always lets teams go back through the height sticks within a certain grace period after the race to make sure the various parts cool and settle down.

"Our car came back and it was correct, but it wasn't built incorrect – and that's one thing that their car was, it was built incorrectly," Hamlin said.

Johnson brushed off Bowyer's claim with a bit of exasperation.

"Shit, I don't care. I just drive the car," he said. "Regardless of what I say, people are going to believe that. So the hell with it, let's just write it."

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Clint Bowyer's Crew Chief Shane Wilson Says He's Headed To Dover While Richard Childress Appeals Penalty

As Richard Childress Racing appeals the NASCAR penalty on Clint Bowyer's team, the No. 33's crew chief Shane Wilson indicated first thing Thursday morning that he'll remain on the team's pit box.

Wilson, one of the few NASCAR crew chiefs on Twitter, tweeted:

@cupcrewchief: Dover, here I come.

On Wednesday evening, Childress released a statement saying he planned to appeal the penalty – while apologizing to his team's sponsors and fans at the same time.

Childress said NASCAR had informed the team that due to a close inspection after Richmond, it would take the No. 33 car after New Hampshire regardless of finishing position.

"It doesn't make any sense at all that we would send a car to New Hampshire that wasn't within NASCAR's tolerances," Childress said. "I am confident we fixed the area of concern and the New Hampshire car left the race shop well within the tolerances required by NASCAR."

Obviously, NASCAR didn't feel that way. Childress said the team was over the line by 1/16 of an inch – which the team owner attributed to contact from either other cars on the track or the tow truck that pushed Bowyer's car to Victory Lane after he ran out of gas.

"That's the only logical way that the left-rear of the car was found to be high at the tech center," he said. "We will appeal NASCAR's ruling and take it all the way to the NASCAR commissioner for a final ruling, if need be."

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NASCAR Crushes Clint Bowyer's Team With Huge Penalty; We Answer Your Questions Here

NASCAR issued a 150-point penalty to Clint Bowyer's No. 33 team and suspended crew chief Shane Wilson for six races on Wednesday afternoon, saying that Bowyer's winning car at New Hampshire was built illegally.

Officials offered few details on the exact infraction, but said the body of the car was built beyond the legal tolerances for NASCAR's tightly controlled new car.

Here are some questions and answers about the news today:

Does this have anything to do with the "warning" Bowyer's team received after Richmond?

While officials said the severity of the penalty was unrelated to the news that Bowyer's team was warned about being close to crossing the line after Richmond, NASCAR's Robin Pemberton said the New Hampshire infraction occurred in the "same area" of the car.

Of course, this might lead to conspiracy theories that Bowyer's team prepared the car in a similar way at Richmond and NASCAR was hesitant to pull the trigger on a penalty that would knock Bowyer out of the Chase field.

But Pemberton said the Richmond car was deemed to be legal – close to the line, but legal – and that the New Hampshire car was built beyond the allowed specifications.

NASCAR works with teams when they get close to committing a violation (such as Hendrick Motorsports last year). The difference here, officials said, was that while Hendrick immediately came back to the track with corrected cars, Bowyer's Richard Childress Racing team did not.

What does this mean for Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton? Is it likely their cars were illegal, too?

NASCAR said the previous RCR cars that have come through its Research and Development Center for a thorough postrace inspection have passed with no issues.

Though it's possible a team would build all of its cars the same way, there's no evidence that occurred in this case.

How did Bowyer's car pass pre-race and post-race inspection at the track but fail three days later?

NASCAR's John Darby said there are two different kinds of inspection. At the track, NASCAR is looking for body violations such as not fitting the template and height sticks. But once the car is back at the R&D Center, officials can take a more three-dimensional view of the car and determine if it was built to specifications.

In this case, Bowyer's car was found to have crossed the line.

What kind of performance advantage did Bowyer's team gain by committing the infraction?

That's unclear, but NASCAR's Robin Pemberton noted "it's not for us to decide" what kind of advantage Bowyer's team gained. And he's right: NASCAR isn't responsible for determining if Bowyer's infraction helped the team win the race or not; the sanctioning body only has a responsibility to decide if Bowyer's car was outside the rules.

Ultimately, NASCAR felt it had enough evidence to determine Bowyer crossed the line.

Why didn't NASCAR take away the win if Bowyer's car was illegal?

NASCAR, as a general rule, doesn't take away victories in the three major series. Officials reiterated their stance that such a massive points penalty is even worse than stripping a team of the win and giving it to someone else.

Indeed, Bowyer's team loses its crew chief and car chief for six weeks apiece, and the points penalty is crushing.

What does this do to Bowyer's Chase chances?

They're destroyed. Bowyer went from second in the standings after New Hampshire – a darkhorse to win the whole thing – to a 12th-place driver missing key team members with a huge deficit to powerful contenders. He can't win it now.

Did NASCAR do this for publicity in light of sagging ratings?

No. NASCAR's research has shown that fans don't like penalties and don't want them to decide the outcome of the Chase or any part of the season.

NASCAR, as controlling as it is, doesn't issue penalties with pleasure or joy. That's why officials have tried to stamp out cheating ever since the 2007 crackdown, after which penalties have been escalated ever since.

Pemberton said if teams continue to cheat – it's worth noting there hadn't been this kind of infraction in a couple years – the penalties could go as high as 200 points or more.

Was this the right decision by NASCAR or was this unfair to a Chase team?

If Bowyer's car was built beyond NASCAR's tolerances, then absolutely. Whether a team crosses the line by a lot or a little, it should be punished if it's outside the rules.

Pushing the envelope has always been a part of racing; but so has getting caught.

It's a shame that such a promising Chase run with a different face was snuffed out. But in this case, Bowyer's team apparently pushed NASCAR's limits beyond what was acceptable and forced officials to act.

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