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."