Bringing the Pain

Friday, June 11

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Well, the rain failed to dampen Kurt Busch’s spirits—and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge—and did little to take the edge off Kevin Harvick to boot.

Busch won the pole for Sunday’s Heluva! Good Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Friday, outlasting Jamie McMurray and Jimmie Johnson for the top spot.

Harvick, meanwhile, was bringing the pain in his weekly media time, talking about Joey Logano and his father, Tom.

“His father has no place in this,” Harvick said of the elder Logano’s involvement in the post-race fracas at Pocono. “His father needs to stick back and act like all of the rest of the dads, and be happy that his kid’s here. This isn’t Little League baseball anymore. He just needs to stay away and act like a 50-year-old man, or however old he is.”

Harvick wasn’t being needlessly harsh about it, and in fact was complimentary of the young driver. But he had some advice for the family.

“So, there’s a big step that has to be taken from, obviously, shedding the dad. Obviously that was the biggest issue last week. After the race, it was the same thing. Dad’s up in the motor home driver’s face, chanting and hollering, and those things don’t need to happen. And that this particular point, he’s responsible for his own career and everybody’s actions around him, so he can either fix it and go about things the right way, and in my opinion, he gets bad advice on how he needs to race.

“He’s not Tony Stewart. The team guys, obviously, all miss Tony Stewart and the way he raced in the 20 car and race winning, championships, and he can handle everything himself. Now he’s getting pushed, and it’s very evident who’s pushing him the most, and that’s his dad. I mean his dad shoved him into a pile like a dog chasing after a bone last week to go over there and want to fight. And that’s OK, too. And the good thing about it is, my guys did a great job in handling it. I felt like the way that we all handled it was good because that could’ve escalated into something that it really didn’t need to be.”

Logano was not backing off his comments at all this week, and this will fester until one or the other steps up to settle it down.

Harvick said he’s tried, and been rebuffed.

“Let me break this all down for you,” Harvick said. “We had the issues at Bristol. He was fired up, we raced for 40 laps – chop, chop, chop, chop, chop. And that one ended up the way it ended up. We go to Nashville, we get done with Bristol, his dad has physical contact with one my PR people. I go to Nashville, I tell him, I say, ‘All right, Joey. The best thing you can do is get your dad under control,’ and he turned around, laughed at me, and said, ‘Do you really think that was a big deal?’ Obviously, now it’s a pretty big deal.

“So at that particular point, I said obviously he really doesn’t want to take any advice and doesn’t want to talk about things any further than what he thinks is right. So, we go to Phoenix, crashes in the back of me, tries to put me out down the straightaway, blow it off. Go to Richmond, last restart, dumps me out of the way, lose four or five spots. So at that point I get out of the car, tell him how I feel. Go to Pocono, and race hard. Same thing happened. That’s how you’ve got to race him from my standpoint. I tried to break the ice at Nashville at driver intros, and basically he turned around and told me that his dad having problem with my PR person was not a big deal and pretty much laughed in my face. So at this point, it’s up to him. I’d love to work it out.

“Normally you have every opportunity to work it out with anybody in the garage. I feel like I can go to pretty much anybody in the garage and work something out. It’s just at that particular stage that it’s up to him to what he wants it to go into and how he wants to play the game. I’m fine with the game. I’ve been on both sides of it.”

For his part, Logano was also the victim of a bunch of media attention.

Asked if he thought it was over, Logano hedged.

“You never know,” he said. “I’m not going to say it is, and I’m not going to say it isn’t. Right now my main priority is getting this Home Depot Toyota into the Chase.”

Asked about his dad, Logano said there’s nothing different from his dad being at the track than those of other drivers.

“Everyone has got to have a father,” he said. “Everyone’s been in the situation growing up, racing with your father, going up through the ranks and all of that. A lot of the fathers are still here at the track.”

Asked what it will take for Harvick to earn back his respect, Logano wasn’t biting.

“It will probably take some time,” he said. “It will probably take a long time.” Hmmmm.

That sounds a bit ominous, doesn’t it? We haven’t heard the last of this, and I imagine we’ll be writing about this again before the season’s over.