Kevin Harvick has admitted that he had no qualms about giving Matt Kenseth the shove that helped the Ford driver win the rain-shortened Daytona 500, despite the fact that it denied himself a rare Budweiser Shootout-500 double.

Although he did not know it at the time, the push that Harvick gave to Kenseth's #7 DeWalt Ford to help it past leader Elliott Sadler proved to be the decisive move of an incident-filled race, coming as it did just a lap or two before NASCAR officials decided to red flag the race due to rain. While the decision to abandon the event was not taken for some time after the stoppage, enough distance had been covered to make the result official, leaving Harvick to settle for second spot when the call finally came.

"I'm kind of like Elliott - another lap, and you never know what would have happened if that doesn't shake out like it did," the veteran said of the early finish, "You always want to win the race [and], knowing what it's like to win the Daytona 500, it's neat to be in Victory Lane.

"But, you know, it's also kind of bittersweet, I guess you could say, for the fact that Matt is the one that pushed me to my Daytona 500 win. In the end, it's kind of weird how that stuff works out.

"I learned a long time ago that I just kind of do my own thing and the rest of it is all up to them. Fortunately, we've sat on the other side of the fence [with rain stoppages]. Knowing how our day started, what we accomplished today, I'm happy with where we are. Obviously, I know how exciting it is to be in Victory Lane, but it's easy to second guess something until you have to sit up there and make those decisions."

Having been informed of the impending shower, Harvick admitted that he and the rest of the pack had already started to race with a view to the event finishing earlier than scheduled - and felt that the #29 had as good a chance as any of being in front when the red flag came out.

"Everybody was racing hard, knowing that the rain was really close," he smiled, "It's time to go when they think it's going to rain a lot and you know you need to make something happen.

"I was thinking 'man, we got a good push here'. I had the #44 [AJ Allmendinger] behind me, and the #33 [Clint Bowyer] behind me on the restart. We had a good head of steam going down the back, but my car wasn't very good on the bottom, so we went to the top.

"Clint said he was committed to go wherever we went, and we got a good run there. Things started to shake up. I got into the back of the #43 [Reed Sorenson] a little bit down the backstretch and he kind of got shot up high there, [while] we wound up behind Matt going into three and coming off of four. Luckily, you know, it all worked out okay."

While not being able to win himself, and having to see Chevy rival Ford take the plaudits for a victory in which Kenseth played a one-lap bit-part, Harvick insisted that the Roush Fenway Racing driver's success would be embraced by the NASCAR community.

"I think, in the garage, it will definitely be a popular win," he claimed, "I think Matt's obviously a pretty stand-up person and a great racecar driver who has accomplished a lot in this sport. I think a lot of us can relate to Matt for kind of going out of the spotlight.

"I think he's one of those guys that can win seven or eight races in a year and never receive any credit. He's a really good racecar driver, and he's a champion - Daytona 500 champion. I think a lot of times some of those things are overlooked."

Harvick's #29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet had made a characteristic late-race charge towards the front of the field, having started 38th after Harvick was 'forced' into his back-up machine by a practice crash, when the rain arrived with 48 of the scheduled 200 laps to run. Prior to that, and having made up 19 spots in the opening five laps, Harvick spent the early part of the race feeling out his car and avoiding numerous multi-car incidents.

"It seems to be typical of how we race," he admitted, "To be honest with you, we were off a little bit. We started in the back, and were off a little bit, but we made some huge adjustments at the second or third pit-stop. We got ourselves in the back [of the field] again, but were able to make the car where it drove really good.

"Once I got myself in the middle of the pack, the car was easy to drive. It didn't have the speed like it needed to but, once we were in the middle of it, we were able to manoeuvre ourselves really good. In the end, it was a good day, and worked out okay."

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