Saturday, September 25, 2010

Harvick Gets Into Hamlin's Car, and then His Face During First Dover Practice Session

By Micah Roberts

Like two boxers trying to sell a pay-per-view boxing match, the two favorites to win NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship squared off toe to toe during Saturday’s first practice session at Dover adding all the drama needed to sell this years Chase. Within the first five minutes of practice Kevin Harvick played the team enforcer role like a hockey goon and bumped the right rear and then the right front fender of Denny Hamlin’s car.

Both cars had minor damage and immediately came into the garage area where the fireworks continued. Hamlin didn’t have to go far, either, because his stall was right next to Harvick’s. Both crews did some yelling at each other and when Hamlin got into the fray, Harvick jumped out of his car and went straight for Hamlin with some choice words of his own.

The apparent hostilities are a result of Denny Hamlin weighing in -- maybe a little unwarranted and excessive -- on the matter of NASCAR’s decision to fine Clint Bowyer and Richard Childress Racing which took away 150 points following Bowyer’s New Hampshire win last Sunday.

Here's what Hamlin had to say regarding the matter before Friday's practice session.

"They should be happy they're even in the Chase at this point," Hamlin said Friday. "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."

Hamlin may have some decent view points, but it probably wasn't his place to back NASCAR's decision and weigh in what another organization is willing to do as if putting a taint on the entire season. That's where Harvick must have snapped and did a little old school justice and let it all hang out as NASCAR had agreed to allow prior to the 2010 season. No fines or penalties were issued for either team regarding the on and off track incidents.

The best thing about the entire situation is that it adds a piece of drama that every fan craves in the sport. What will happen next in this true reality series?

Oh yeah, David Reutimann led the first practice followed by the Busch brothers. Here's a look at the practice speeds.

Hamlin quotes from Jeff Gluck - SB Nation story

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