Move over, Brad Keselowski.
Make room for Kevin Harvick.
Though most conversation about NASCAR racing over the past twelve days has involved Keselowski's spectacular wreck March 7 at Atlanta — triggered when Carl Edwards spun Keselowski's Dodge in retaliation for contact that sent Edwards' Ford to the garage earlier in the race — Harvick kept his own feud with Edwards alive during the week off.
On a radio show leading up to Bristol, Harvick referred to Edwards as a "fake." That's not something new. Harvick and Edwards have a history that that's deeper and more rancorous than Edwards' on-track battle with Keselowski.
After Edwards threw a mock punch in the direction of team-mate Matt Kenseth after tangling with Kenseth at Martinsville in 2008, Harvick opined that Edwards had anger management issues. After Edwards ignited a multicar wreck at Talladega later that season, Harvick called him a "pansy" for riding around in the back until late in the race.
Those comments led to a scuffle in the Charlotte Motor Speedway garage area the following week at Charlotte, after Edwards had delivered a sarcastic note to the pilot of Harvick's plane.
On Friday at Bristol, with a meeting between Edwards, Keselowski and their respective car owners (Jack Roush and Roger Penske) scheduled for Saturday, Harvick once again questioned the validity of Edwards' reputation as an affable, approachable driver.
"As far as the 'fake' comment, I mean, you can't be the nice guy, you can't be the bad guy and you can't be the bully," Harvick said. "That's just how I feel about that."
Edwards didn't mince words in replying to Harvick's criticism.
"I have absolutely no respect for Kevin Harvick," Edwards said Friday before practice, according to a report by Bob Pockrass of SceneDaily.com
. "I think he's a bad person. That's my opinion. I've told him that. We've had our deal before, and his actions through that interaction were so devious and underhanded and cowardly that, it's like, I just have no respect for him.
"When people like that question me, it makes me feel better because, if those people were lined up patting me on the back, I'd be on the wrong side of what's right and wrong. And I truly believe that."
Whether the bad blood between Edwards and Harvick will escalate beyond the war of words remains to be seen. Edwards is serving a three-race probation for wrecking Keselowski, starting with Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol, and in that respect is limited in responding to another driver with a score to settle.