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Harvick takes battle with Busch to Trucks
11 May 2011
The major falling-out between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch has been the talking point of NASCAR for the last few days, and it hasn't stopped with the awarding of penalties ($25,000 fine and four-week probation) to both men following the antics on track and in pit road.
And now they're taking their bitter personal battle to Camping World Truck, with Kevin Harvick a late entry into the Dover round of the series increasingly seen as Kyle's personal domain these days, as Harvick's own driving appearances focus on the Sprint Cup.
"Kevin and Kyle's rivalry is at least three years old but it's hard to trace it back to one specific race,” explained SPEED TV channel reporter Ray Dunlap. "It was one of those feuds that simmered under the surface for quite some time until it finally boiled over and erupted."
Harvick decided to run at Dover after the most recent Truck race at Nashville, but it was still before the outbreak of major hostilities at Darlington. It will be Harvick's first Truck series start at Dover. However, the motivation for Harvick seems clear: if anyone can stop Kyle Busch taking a clean sweep of all three championships here then it's Kevin Harvick himself.
"I think he made a conscious decision to be the guy who does whatever it takes to prevent Kyle from winning all the time," said Dunlap. "KHI [Kevin Harvick Incorporated] has a better shot at keeping Kyle out of victory lane with Kevin in the No. 2 truck than with any other driver in their stable."
Last year, Kyle took both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide victories, but failed in the Truck race after a fuel pump problem. He finally got his triple crown - the first by any NASCAR driver - at Bristol in August 2010, but clearly has his eye on this weekend's events at Dover as his next chance to repeat the feat. He's got proven credentials racing on concrete ovals like Dover, and has accumulated 20 wins on them going back to 2008, including two Sprint Cup, three Nationwide and one Truck series win at Dover; a further 11 wins at Bristol; and three more at Nashville.
"I think Kevin will make a pretty strong effort to keep him out of Victory Lane; not necessarily wreck him, but make sure he doesn't get another win," said Dunlap. "It could be pretty ugly. It could be really ugly for one of them in particular."
The pair have a long history of rivalry in Trucks in previous seasons, explained the SPEED reporter. "Darlington is the culmination of at least eight or 10 incidents between them, about 70-percent of which came in the Truck Series." Harvick has previously entered a Truck race in 2008 just in order to get back at Kyle Busch, which involved blocking him on pit road and running into the back of Busch repeatedly in practice, which rattled a younger, less assured Busch.
But the statistics are heavily on Kyle's side: 26 wins from 89 Truck starts compared with Harvick's 9 wins in 108 starts, plus 11 pole positions for Kyle compared to just one for Kevin.
The feud between the two seemed to go to another level when Kyle Busch set up his own Truck series team, Kyle Busch Motorsports in late 2009, and poached Rick Ren, Ron Hornaday's crew chief, from the Kevin Harvick Incorporated outfit, since which time KBM has gone from strength to strength,
In next week's race at Charlotte on May 20, KBM marks a landmark moment by fielding former F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen in his debut in any NASCAR-sanctioned race.
But this week it's all about Dover - a place that Busch says he enjoys, but where he hasn't had the best of luck in the Truck series. "It's definitely a fast racetrack. It's a fun racetrack, too. It makes it interesting when you get to traffic," he said. "I should've won the past five races in a row at Dover, I just haven't been able to do it."
And now he faces the added obstacle of a fired up and motivated Harvick.
With both drivers under probation for four weeks - which includes their appearances in the Truck and Nationwide series as well as the Sprint Cup races and the All-Star event at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21 - both drivers will have to be careful not to commit any overt indiscretions that might attract NASCAR's ire.
But there is more than one way of wrecking someone else's race or making sure they don't get to victory road, and both drivers will be keeping their eyes open for any such opportunities on Friday night. Trouble there could spill over into Sunday afternoon's Sprint Cup race as well, making it an interesting weekend in store for NASCAR fans.