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The final 10 laps of the Cup event took almost an hour to complete, with a trio of overtime restarts required following a series of Turn 1 multi-car pileups after restarts, which resulted in car and tire damage causing cautions for debris.
In total, there were five restarts in the final 15 laps. Harvick, who was in the thick of the action in his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang and ended the race in 13th position, retires from fulltime NASCAR competition at the end of the season.
He said that things had changed a lot since his stock car racing career began in the mid-1990s.
“Well, the driver code is not what it used to be when I first started – when you would run into the back of somebody on a restart and lift their tires up off the ground, because the nose was only 8, 9, 10 inches off the ground,” said Harvick. “It was much different then because there was a race etiquette that Ken Schrader, Bobby Hamilton, Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin made sure that you understood.
“Usually, it came in ways of not being able to get your lap back when the caution came out. They would race you back to the yellow [flag] if you weren’t doing things appropriately on the racetrack.”
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Mobil 1 Ford Mustang at COTA
Photo by: Ben Earp / NKP / Motorsport Images
Harvick believes that these roughhouse tactics run right through the sport in the modern era – and he’s experienced it while guiding his son Keelan through the karting ranks in recent times.
“Today, I really see it at the go-kart tracks,” said Harvick. “The things you currently see on the racetrack are exactly how all of them are taught to race.
“They’re taught to block, they’re taught to race in the rain, they’re taught to run into you and they’re taught to gouge on the restarts, and that’s just the way it is.
“It’s just a different upbringing as far as how you teach them to race, compared to how I was taught to race, and there are a lot more situations where everybody has the resources and cars to get to the racetrack than putting your car together on a week-to-week basis where if you didn’t finish, you didn’t get to go for a few weeks.
“It’s a much different era of racing than what it used to be.”