Kevin Harvick fired back Wednesday at a NASCAR executive who speculated earlier in the week that Cup Series drivers are trying to force the sport to return to single-car qualifying from the group qualifying that drivers have complained about this year.
In a radio interview Monday, Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, pointed to drivers who parked at the end of pit road during group qualifying, remarking in part: “Part of you says, ‘Are we doing this on purpose to get rid of it?'”
Harvick responded Wednesday on his “Happy Hours” show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio when asked how the qualifying format could be fixed: “Well, one way is not to air your dirty laundry on the radio. I feel like calling the drivers out and saying that they’re sitting at the end of pit road on purpose is probably not something that you should publicly say even if you think it.”
. @KevinHarvick reacts to Steve O’Donnell’s comments on #TMDNASCAR and offers his perspective on qualifying and what happened at Texas #HappyHours @StewartHaasRcng @KHIManagement #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/CX9Puylzci
And Harvick’s suggestion?
Single-car qualifying on the superspeedways and the mile-and-a-half race tracks.
“Any time that you have a draft, the guy in second is going to be faster than the guy in first as long as he’s close enough. That’s one of the unforeseen consequences that have come with this rules package that have impeded qualifying sessions that we’ve had this year. … Now we’re kind of getting the finger pointed at us from a drivers standpoint and referred to as trying to sit at the end of pit road and do this on purposes so it will go away. That’s not the case,” Harvick said.
“We’re all sitting down there and trying to figure out how we can somehow manage ourself in a hole to be first. That’s really what it’s about. Whatever the rules are, however you want to manage everything, it’s about being first at the end of the day and trying to be the pole-sitter and the best way to do that is to wait until you get in position behind the most amount of cars to be last (in line).”
O’Donnell on Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio addressed tweaking qualifying.
“We’re going to look at every option,” he said, “including the possibility of going to single-car qualifying. … We’ll make adjustments as needed.”
Asked on “Morning Drive” if what has happened in qualifying has made him angry, O’Donnell said “absolutely,” adding:
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“I think it’s ridiculous, candidly. I know the drivers did not like this qualifying before the season. Part of you says, ‘Are we doing this on purpose to get rid of it?’ I know it can be done. I know we have the best drivers in the world and crew chiefs to figure it out. We seem to want to outdo each other, and that results in sitting on pit road.
“We’ll react to it. We’ll make the right call and get it right. We don’t want to see cars sitting on pit road for 8 minutes. That’s not NASCAR racing. We’ll make the fix there.”
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