Kevin Harvick Rips Early Bristol Issues: ‘We All Look Like a Bunch of Bozos’

Kevin Harvick

Getty Kevin Harvick's Ford failed inspection twice.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick is not happy after an early exit from the NASCAR Cup Series dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway. He has sounded off about track prep work that led to early issues for him, Cole Custer, and Aric Almirola.

Three of the four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers had to head down pit road early in the Food City Dirt Race on April 17 due to mud clogging their grilles. Their entries all began to overheat, so they had to make unscheduled stops to clean the front of their stock cars. NASCAR ultimately threw a caution flag and made the rest of the drivers make mandatory pit stops to clean their grilles.

Following the stops, Custer and Almirola both received the wave around that put them back on the lead lap. Harvick, however, was told by NASCAR that he had to drop to the rear of the field due to losing his lap on the track instead of on pit road. This decision caused frustration among the No. 4 team, which only grew after a wreck involving multiple cars knocked Harvick out of the race.

“The first thing I can tell you is we did a terrible job prepping the track and [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,” Harvick told members of the media. “And then we don’t get the lucky dog — for whatever reason — with two cars on pit road. And then we got run over.”

Harvick noted that he had a strong car after cleaning the mud from the grille. However, he said that the crews just “did a terrible job” prepping the short track for the start of the Easter evening race.

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Questions Remain About a Return to Bristol Dirt

Kevin Harvick

GettyKevin Harvick races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

There were obvious questions about the dirt track at Bristol Motor Speedway and whether NASCAR will return to it during the 2023 season. The answer remains unclear, but there are strong opinions from the drivers on both sides of the discussion.

Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, and multiple other drivers mentioned during a red-flag stop due to rain that they were enjoying the return to the dirt racing surface. Ryan Blaney even said that he was “having a blast” despite occasionally struggling to move through the field.

Camping World Truck Series driver Chandler Smith expressed a different opinion after the race on April 16. He said “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in reference to putting dirt over the asphalt surface. Harvick said that he thinks Bristol Motor Speedway is a great track and he added that the TV ratings will determine whether NASCAR brings back the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway in future seasons.

“You can’t talk to them,” Harvick said about potentially bringing up the track preparation to NASCAR officials. “Might be [able to], but if I had my choice we wouldn’t be doing this anyway. … I think it’s ridiculous that we’re doing what we’re doing anyway.”

The Bristol Race Disrupted Another Consistent Season

Harvick’s race came to an early end due to a large wreck that sent Noah Gragson‘s No. 16 up onto the No. 4 and caused critical damage. It was only the 2014 Cup Series champion’s second DNF of the 2022 Cup Series season, and it disrupted an overall consistent season.

Harvick entered the trip to Bristol Motor Speedway ninth in the championship standings. He had top-10 finishes at Auto Club Speedway and Phoenix Raceway to his name, as well as a runner-up at Richmond Raceway. Harvick also had three other top-15s that kept him in contention for the playoffs.

With a 34th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway, Harvick will now have more ground to make up in the remaining regular-season races. He made the playoffs on points in 2021, and he will have the opportunity to do so once again if there are fewer than 16 winners.

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