NASCAR’s Harvick Throws His Boys Under the Motorhome

His pit crew, said the second-place finisher, is doing a 'terrible' job.

Alan Marler/Chevy Racing

NASCAR Sprint Cup racing is a team sport. You win and lose as a team. Unless you are Kevin Harvick, where, in his opinion – and admittedly the facts are in his favor – you get second place in the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway not because of, but in spite of your team.

All season, Chevrolet's Harvick has been complaining about his pit crew. After the Southern 500, where Harvick finished behind winner and Toyota driver Martin Truex, Jr., he threw his pit crew so far under the bus you’d think the bus would have high-centered. At the end of the race, he had a very good shot at Truex, but he couldn’t get the job done. But Harvick didn’t mention that afterwards.

Example:

QUESTION: Kevin, great car this evening, led a lot of laps here.  Has to be very frustrating to be in this position, but could you walk us through how that unfolded from your position? 

KEVIN HARVICK:  Yeah, we had a great car.  The guys in the garage and at the shop continue to do a great job, and we continue to give it away on pit road.  Pretty much summed up the night.  Just the dominant car and just three bad pit stops on pit road. 

QUESTION:  Kevin, I know you're frustrated, but how do you fix these things this late in the season?  What do you do?

KEVIN HARVICK:  Yeah, I really don't know.  We have championship cars and we’re just mediocre on pit road.  It's kind of been that way for a few years, and they've moved some things around, but it just seems like it's just week after week after week.  You have a couple good weeks here and there and every once in a while you just put together a day, but they just can't put together a whole day on pit road right now.

QUESTION: How much in the forefront of your mind were the pit stops tonight?

KEVIN HARVICK: Oh, it's just the same old thing. You get in position where you bring a dominant car. The guys in the shop and the guys in the garage are doing a great job, and the guys on pit road are doing a terrible job. You get in a position to win races, and they continually step on their toes and don't make it happen. You're not going to win races like that. I'm really proud of the car that we brought tonight and the things that we've done on the race track, but you can only make so many excuses for pit road.

This has, of course, happened before, perhaps most notably with Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus a few years ago, when Knaus literally changed pit crews in the middle of the race.

Still, Harvick has had a season that no one has to apologize for. Twenty-five races in, and he has two wins, 12 top-fives and 20 top-tens. He is first in points. This despite his crappy qualifying performance – has average start has been 16.5, and he has zero poles – and he has led 1,211 laps.

But he is correct in his assertion that he is losing positions on pit road. It would seem his relationship with the crew has been permanently poisoned – I don’t know how they could show up and have nothing on their minds but performing on pit road with this hanging over them.

I can’t imagine the guys on his crew aren’t trying as hard as they can. But this is the big leagues. It’s time for a complete crew change for Harvick, and for him to find another whipping boy for his losses.