Kevin Harvick has revealed that NASCAR President Mike Helton has personally told him not to get into any more on-track altercations with Kyle Busch, following a stormy recent few months between the two drivers and between Busch and Harvick's Cup team owner Richard Childress.
"I was told a few weeks ago that if we touched the #18 car, we'd be parked," confirmed Harvick bluntly, after letting slip over the team radio during Saturday's New England 200 Nationwide Series race that he was having to be extra careful when the two of them ended up running together at the front.
"I've just got to be really careful. I would have liked to have gotten the track position and slid up and do what I needed to do," he said. "But I've just got to be really careful. That's the way NASCAR put it to me.
"It would have been a lot easier to win if you didn't have handcuffs put on you, but that's the way NASCAR said we had to do it," he finished.
NASCAR would not comment on whether or not Harvick had been warned off, saying that any conversation between Harvick and Helton was a private one, but NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said that "It's our deal to keep law and order on the race track," while adding that he wasn't personally at any such meeting between Harvick and Helton.
But Kyle Busch confirmed that he had certainly not received any such warning. "If he got a warning, I'm sorry he got a warning. I did not get a warning. So I do not know that I took advantage of him in any way."
"I raced hard, I raced clean and I ended up where I am," he said in Victory Lane after taking his 100th national-level NASCAR race win
. "I had a great race with Harvick - no problem ... I think that's the way you should race. I raced him just as clean as he raced me, which is great."
Both drivers had been put under probation for a month
after a controversial confrontation between the two
drivers on-track and in the pit lane area at Darlington mid-May. Four weeks later, team owner Richard Childress stormed into Busch's garage at Kansas
and proceeded to punch the 26-year-old owner-driver after a minor bumping incident during the evening's Camping World Truck Series, for which Childress was fined $150,000
and put under probation but Busch was exonerated of any blame that might have affected his own prior probation.
The following weekend at Pocono, Harvick had seemed to go out of his way
to try and antagonise Busch on track at every opportunity early in the race, but Busch stubbornly refused to rise to the bait on that occasion.