Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick settle track spat
Richard Childress Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton declared a truce after their spat on the track at Martinsville.
Burton said he and Harvick met Tuesday, and it didn’t take much time to resolve any lingering issues from Sunday’s race. Harvick said it wasn’t a difficult conversation.
“A lot can be made out of things that we say on the radio, and obviously neither of us did a very good job at that,” Harvick said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. “But the thing about Jeff and I is there’s a lot of respect there. We’ve had those spats before, and we can handle those things in about five minutes.”
Harvick and Burton both spent a portion of last Sunday’s race at Martinsville complaining to their crews over their in-car radios. Harvick apparently took issue with the way Burton tried to pass him and nudged Burton’s car. Burton then criticized Harvick after the race.
Burton compared it to a family argument.
“We sat down and had a great meeting and talked about it and we’ll be better teammates for it,” Burton said. “Both of us could have handled that situation better, both of us had something to learn from it. It is completely over. And again, I think we will be stronger for it.”
Burton said there’s always a certain amount of tension between teammates because they’re expected to help each other at the same time they’re trying to beat each other.
“Being teammates is hard,” Burton said. “You always expect more out of your teammate. You are trying to be a good teammate, but you are also trying to beat your teammate and it’s very, very difficult.”
And Burton acknowledged that Talladega isn’t the best place to race one week after having a dustup with a teammate. Because of the unique nature of racing at Talladega, teammates generally try to work together in the draft. But things don’t always go as planned.
“You have a situation with a teammate, the last place you want to go is Talladega the week after because teammates always get their feelings hurt here,” Burton said. “But the reality of it is, and I think we handle it really well, is that if a teammate can help me, I want him to help me. But I don’t want him to help me if it is going to hurt them. That is not fair to them.”
While Harvick enters Sunday’s race at Talladega third in the series points standings and a serious championship contender, Burton said teammates still have to worry about themselves first.
“We don’t have any team orders that says ‘Hey, go push Kevin. Go make it so he can do it,’” Burton said. “If I can help Kevin, I certainly will. I won’t do that at the jeopardy of hurting me and my team and Kevin wouldn’t want me to.”
“Kevin or Richard (Childress) wouldn’t want us to do that,” he added. “This is still racing. We are RCR, but at the same time, we have to go and do the very best we can for each individual team. If we don’t do that then I think we really mess with the credibility of the sport.”