Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On Harvick v. Hornaday, Harvick v. Crafton, Johnny Sauter, and nuclear engineers

My three week run as PR rep for HT Motorsports has come to an end. Congrats to Lori and Danny Rollins on the birth of their son Brody! I had a blast with the team during my short tenure, and it was fun to get to see the new Iowa track and visit old friends in St. Louis and New Hampshire. I only wish the team had a little better luck while I was there...

- So what exactly did Ron Hornaday do wrong at Loudon? He raced hard for a position in the top three? Isn't that his job? Did Harvick ever explain to Hornaday, or maybe put it in his contract, that under no circumstances is Hornaday to race the boss hard for position? It's hard to understand Harvick's thought process here. Sure, everyone wants to win and maybe Harvick could have given Kyle Busch a run for the money had he been able to pass Hornaday. But in order to get up and race for the win, you have to be able to pass the rest of the drivers separating you from the leader. Unfortunately, Harvick couldn't quite get it done. Did he have a fast truck? Yes. Did he have a winning truck? No, because he wasn't good enough and couldn't get there and fight for the win. Should be be upset? No, because he's out there playing in the sandbox. Yes, bring all the fire and desire you can whenever you strap in, regardless of the series or division you are competing in - but also remember that sometimes even Babe Ruth would strike out against minor league pitching talent. Just because you lose in the minors, even if your employee plays a role in it, doesn't mean you should be a total jerk about it afterwards.

- I wonder if Harvick's sponsor for the weekend was happy with his hijinks with Matt Crafton on Friday during practice and then early during the race? Crafton had every reason to be upset with Harvick's antics during practice, and his commentary on the radio to his team earned him a visit from the series director to tell him to chill out. I certainly hope that Wayne Auton paid a visit to Harvick and told him to settle down too. Afterall, something had to have made Crafton that mad, right? And although SPEED didn't cover that practice, its cameras were on and caught Happy harrassing Crafton on pit road a couple of times. Of course, there's also the little matter of Harvick's text message to Crafton immediately after the St. Louis race telling him he better buckle up tight because he was coming to get him in New Hampshire. I understand the competitive spirit and it's certainly easy to get fired up when you perceive a wrong perpetrated against you on the track, but how about showing a little class too?

- If Johnny Sauter had pitted one lap earlier on Saturday, I have little doubt he would have won the race. That team has turned the corner since adding Joe Shear, Jr. as crew chief. After years of struggling to build a competitive program with one truck, ThorSport now has two legitimate contenders week in and week out. And now there's the possibility of a third truck? With many teams on shaky financial footing, ThorSport could be positioned to make a serious charge for the championship with both (or is it all three?) teams in 2010.

- I had a chance to give a pit tour to some guests of David Starr's sponsor, Zachry, during the weekend at New Hampshire. Several of them were involved in engineering nuclear power plants. They were a lot of fun to talk to and had a ton of questions about racing - both current Truck Series racing and some vintage 1980s Cup racing, two of my favorite racing topics. But I had a lot of questions of my own too, I mean, who wouldn't have questions for nuclear engineers, right? I thought about it later on, and this is the power that NASCAR and the drivers have to the general public, but it's amazing that these people who work on and build some of the most technologically amazing structures known to mankind can look at a guy like me and think I have it made in the shade. I mean, afterall, I was merely a fill-in PR dude! A paid spectator that really has nothing to do with making racecars go fast! Meanwhile, they are the ones out there making our country go, and on top of that, they are employees of the company that makes it possible for that race team to go out and compete. In reality, it was me who was in awe of them...


  1. Um, Harvick most likely would've passed him if it wasn't a truck from his own stable he was against. That would've went over real well with both sponsors having teammates make contact.

    This wasn't a well-thought out opinion.

  2. I never did hear if Hornaday's spotter or crew chief received Harvick's request to get by. And, if they did, if they passed it on to Ron. By Ron's reaction after the race, it seemed clear the message hadn't gotten to him.

  3. If Happy Harvick couldn't pass his teammate, with Hornaday giving him space to do so, how could be expect to get past Busch, If he could catch him? Harvick was definitely wearing his 'driver' hat.

    Harvick put on his 'owner' hat when he texted Crafton before that race and while he was at practice. He wanted Matt to be thinking about him, rather than the points leader, Hornaday. And he definitely got into Crafton's head in doing so. That may not be class, but another tool in winning the title for Hornaday and himself.

  4. I don't want to come off as "anti-Harvick" here, because I am not. However, I am not going to support his actions against Crafton and I am still extremely puzzled by his reaction to Hornaday. Sure, his driver was involved in a crash with Crafton and it's easy to see where Harvick might have some anger over it. But does that make it okay to threaten someone? And the deal with Hornaday, well geez, he was out there racing for a win too, wasn't he? And I know I won't soon forget that Hornaday would have been the 2008 champion if not for his teammate Ryan Newman beating him on the final lap at Atlanta. Does team owner Harvick like that trophy as much as he likes the 2007 championship trophy?

    As for Harvick being in Crafton's head...nah, don't believe it for a second. Crafton scored a solid top-five and didn't make a single wrong move the entire weekend. I saw it more as Crafton swatting at an annoying gnat all weekend than him worrying about what would happen.

    In any case, the entire episode has given the NCWTS a much needed boost of real drama, something that has been lacking for much of the year.

  5. Charles just your opinion about the Harvick - Crafton incident - need to get a few more facts before you go off.

  6. sometimes you reporters say things that just aren't 100% I guess you are in favor of Crafton wrecking Hornaday and Bodine that was some bad stuff

  7. Seems like Harvick and all his team should have discussed all the possibilities before the race. You know Hornanday and Harvick have an excellent chance of running strong, so they could have come up with a strategy that would work for the sponsors and the egos.

    Trying to do that in the heat of competition was, well ugly.

  8. Please don't misunderstand...I have no issue with anything that happened at Gateway. I don't think Crafton "wrecked" Bodine or Hornaday. He was going left when both drivers made contact with him. Could he have let off? Yes. Should he have? That's not my question to answer. But that's just how *I* saw it. I know many others saw it differently, including Hornaday and Bodine. I saw it on replay, they saw it from the seat.

    That said, I also have no problem with each of those drivers not cutting Crafton any slack on the racetrack or even a little retaliation. It's all part of what makes racing exciting for those of us watching from the sidelines.

    As for needing more facts on the Harvick-Crafton incident...what facts am I missing? I saw what went down on pit road as they were making their first run in practice. I saw what Harvick did to block Crafton in at the tire station on pit road following that run. I saw Harvick take a swipe at Crafton coming out of turn four early in the race, damaging Crafton's left front fender. What am I missing here?

  9. I meant to clarify...I also have no problem with the anger from Bodine and Hornaday following their respective incidents at Gateway. They thought they were wronged and expressed that, and in doing so proved not every NASCAR driver is just a slightly different flavor of vanilla.