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Kevin Harvick: ‘I know for sure that Tony Stewart is not going to run over somebody on a racetrack”

Aug 17, 2014, 7:06 PM EDT

(Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kevin Harvick is one of Tony Stewart‘s closest friends. There’s a lot of loyalty, trust and similar competitive spirit back and forth between the pair to practically make them brothers.

That friendship was at the core of Harvick’s decision to leave Richard Childress Racing after 13 seasons and move to Stewart-Haas Racing this season.

As a result, with Stewart in seclusion, still grieving over the Aug. 9 sprint car accident that claimed the life of young driver Kevin Ward Jr., and with Stewart not having made any comments other than a brief statement the day after the incident, Harvick came to Stewart’s defense following Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

“I’ve known Tony Stewart for a long time,” Harvick said. “You look, you know, you see what happened. I still don’t believe that he even knew that he ran into that car.

“I know for sure that Tony Stewart is not going to run over somebody that’s on a racetrack. I don’t think there’s anybody in this garage that would. It would be hard to find somebody in the racing world that could point that car, just run somebody over.”

Harvick, who said he has not spoken to Stewart to allow him to work through his own grief over the incident, did take exception to the way much of the media has portrayed the incident and related fallout.

“It has been a difficult week,” Harvick said. “I think the hardest part for me has been the way the whole media thing has shaken down. It’s an absolute tragic accident that has happened on both sides of the fence.

“You have one young man who is dead. You’ve got a guy that we know and are part of an organization that is just getting a lot of just crazy press.

“You have just a lot of unknowledgeable people reporting on a situation that know absolutely nothing about racing. It’s just really unfortunate, the perception that has been given to him.

“I know he’ll stay strong and fight and he’ll get the right people and do all the right things. That’s the part that’s bothered me the most, is just the poor misrepresentation on the media side for him.”

Harvick lauded members of the Stewart-Haas organization for not only supporting their leader, but also in the way they’ve maintained their focus in spite of all the distractions, particularly from the media.

“Everybody just has to pitch in and do their part, make sure we do everything we can to help Tony get through his situation,” Harvick said.

“There’s a lot of strong people at our company. Gene (co-owner Gene Haas) brings a lot to the table from a financial standpoint, being a leader. There’s a lot of great sponsors that are there that are very supportive of everything we’re doing.

“I think it’s added more fire to everybody just to step up and keep everything headed in the right direction.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

  1. worknman24hours - Aug 17, 2014 at 7:34 PM

    Well said, Kevin.

    • astrongus - Aug 17, 2014 at 10:43 PM

      Agreed, well said Kevin, as Kevin mentions, “You look, you know, you see what happened. I still don’t believe that he even knew that he ran into that car.”

      Glad you noticed that he did run into the car. Not only did he run into the car but he ran into the driver on a proceeding lap, killing the other driver….

  2. jerrahsucks - Aug 17, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    The reality of this situation, is with his history, and his constant temper tantrums, since the day he came into NASCAR and decided to start crap with Jeff Gordon to make his name, Stewart has continually shown his lack of self control. Alas, the nickname “smoke”, as he was always pissed about something. Do I think Tony intentionally ran over Ward, No I do not. I think with his HISTORY, he was going to show that punk up, and teach him a lesson. I think Tony wanted to spay mud on him for daring to challenge the former Nascar Champion, embarrass him, and something went horribly wrong. Whether, it was a slip of the throttle, or an unanticipated slide, only God and Tony Stewart Know. My problem is what the hell is Smoke doing trying to humiliate teeanagers, and kids that want to be just like him.

    • sportsfan18 - Aug 17, 2014 at 8:07 PM

      Well said sir.

      Tony has too much history that lets folks know he’s a hot head.

      No, I don’t think he tried to hit the young man.

      However, what you wrote MIGHT (not saying it was the case but it COULD have been) have been what happened.

      Tony might have been mad or felt disrespected by the kid and his actions. Maybe (I said MAYBE folks, we’ll never know, only God and Tony will) Tony wanted to teach the kid a lesson, spray him with dirt etc…

      The young man was obviously foolish and Tony may have been foolish too… but we’ll never know that.

    • astrongus - Aug 17, 2014 at 10:48 PM

      AGREED…….That is the heart of this conversation….Nascar, racer’s and associates who support Tony Stewart are showing their lack of professionalism……Best to remain silent as most of the racer’s have done….

    • stlouis1baseball - Aug 18, 2014 at 8:57 AM

      Jerrah: Your post really does suck. You need to do your homework. Tony was well on his way to being a household name PRIOR to joining NASCAR. He and Gordon have known each other since they were teenagers. The nickname “Smoke” came from his days driving dirt tracks all over the Country. Watch the video again. When Kevin Ward Jr. got out of his car and made his way down the track looking for Stewart there were perhaps TWO CARS in front of Tony that passed him. With the car immediately in front of Tony damn near hitting him. Tony comes out of that corner and there is Kevin Ward. No way he saw him. Black suit…horribly lighted track. By the time he gets out of the turn Ward is there. My problem is people like you looking for drama. Looking for sensationalism. It is what it is. A tragic accident. Nothing more. Just an incredibly sad, tragic accident that will affect those involved for the rest of their lives. You can spin it however you wish. But you are still flat wrong.

  3. stew48 - Aug 17, 2014 at 8:46 PM

    Not well said at all from the previous two utter jerks, who know nothing and think they are experts. Just stay out of the situation and the world will benefit.

  4. scamp516dp - Aug 17, 2014 at 9:08 PM

    I agree with Harvick, let some media members strap a helmet on, buckle up their seatbelt of their passenger car, drive with the driver side sun visor down, passenger side visor down and opened to the passenger door glass, remove the rear view mirror, and oh yeah, by the way, drive down a dimly light street with no headlights at quarter throttle with 15-18 other media drivers on a dusty banked country road.

    Sprint car racing is an art and one of the purest forms of American racing. Wings or no wings requires driver ability, talent, and a no fear approach.

    When a driver uses accelerator steering to steer a car with 3 different sized tires it should signal an accomplished reporter that maybe there is more to this tragic situation than what meets the general population eyes.

    Television makes NASCAR sexy by its coverage, who really can see all the action at one time? Watch a sprint car race at your local bullring and see more racing and action than you can imagine, as well as feel the heart pounding pulse of the competing drivers and fans.

    Who is the villain in this case, Tony Stewart or the media? Nobody knows but Tony and Kevin Ward, Jr. on that tragic Saturday night as to what happened and how.

  5. philliephaninva - Aug 17, 2014 at 10:37 PM

    Running on to a race track is like running with scissors. It’s all good fun until somebody dies.

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