Kevin Harvick was more frustrated with how his race started than how it ended Sunday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Harvick exited the Food City Dirt Race after 100 laps following a crash. Caught up in a multi-car incident on the backstretch with Alex Bowman, Corey LaJoie, and Noah Gragson, the No. 4 Ford Mustang was not drivable because of right front suspension damage.
“The first thing I can tell you is we did a terrible job prepping the track,” Harvick said. “[It was] full of mud and there was nobody here to pack the track, so we all look like a bunch of bozos coming in to pit because we don’t know how to prep the track. And then we don’t get the lucky dog for whatever reason with two cars on pit road, and then we got run over. I don’t know who ran us over at the end.”
Muddy conditions at the start of the race caused multiple drivers to radio their teams with concern about overheating. Stewart-Haas Racing driver and pole-sitter Cole Custer was forced to pit on lap 12 because the grille of his Ford was caked in mud. Another Stewart-Haas driver, Aric Almirola, had to do the same.
On lap 13, NASCAR threw a caution and mandated all teams must pit to clean the grille and windshields of their cars. Custer was given one of the two laps he lost back. Almirola was given the free pass.
NASCAR deemed Harvick lost a lap on track. As the race restarted on lap 26, Harvick and Custer were both one lap down. Harvick got the free pass to rejoin the leaders on lap 93.
“I had a great car,” Harvick said. “The racetrack was fine; they just did a terrible job to start with. They’ve done this before, but obviously, it doesn’t look like it.”
The former Cup Series champion said, “You can’t talk to them,” when asked if he would address his frustration with NASCAR. And even if he could, Harvick said his choice would be to not run a dirt race at Bristol.
“I think Bristol is a great racetrack,” he said, “but it must not have been what everybody liked.”
Harvick will finish 34th in his second DNF of the season.
“I think it’s ridiculous that we’re doing what we’re doing anyway,” Harvick said.