Originally created 09/13/03

Harvick, Rudd harbor grudge



LOUDON, N.H. - Kevin Harvick isn't forgiving and forgetting, and Ricky Rudd doesn't care.

Harvick said Friday he regrets tapping Rudd's car and his use of bad language during a melee on pit lane after Saturday night's Richmond race. But the Richard Childress Racing driver still blames Rudd for putting him in the wall late in the race.

"I still feel it was a pretty cheap shot," Harvick said. "The incident started on the racetrack. I haven't heard from Ricky Rudd, and I know the veteran approach to it is to always call on Monday morning. If it wasn't on purpose, I didn't hear the phone ring.

"I think it was about as intentional as you can get when you wreck going down the straightaway and don't even make it to the corner. ... I'm not going to back off on that part of it."

Harvick was running second and Rudd third with nine laps remaining when Rudd tapped him from behind, sending Harvick's car into the wall. Rudd went on to finish third. Harvick, who is third in the season points and was hoping to gain on leader Matt Kenseth, wound up 16th.

On Friday, Rudd denied he wrecked Harvick on purpose.

"If it was intentional, I darn sure wouldn't have hit him square in the bumper," Rudd said. "I'd had hit him on the inside corner and moved him out of the way and drove on.

"I've been around this sport long enough, if I want to pick out a place to hit, I know how to do it."

Asked whether he plans to speak with Harvick to clear the air, Rudd said, "I would have said I apologize but, after his behavior at the race, I got nothing to say to him."

Rudd said he did try to call Richard Childress, Harvick's car owner, "but he was out hunting."

Harvick never envisioned things getting out of hand the way they did.

"The part I regret the most is the language," said Harvick, who stood on the top of his car and berated Rudd before watching two of his crewmen cave in the hood on Rudd's car.

Harvick then threw his HANS Device at Rudd, who threw it back.

"I can't go back and do things over," Harvick said. "Obviously, things escalated more than I think they should have. I really just wanted to have a conversation with (Rudd). It just didn't work out like that."

NASCAR fined Harvick $35,000 and placed him on probation until Dec. 31. Two of his crewmen were suspended for 10 days and will miss Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway, and two other RCR crewmen were fined.

"For the most part, we stuck together as a race team and a bunch of people, and that's very important from a team standpoint," Harvick said. "We got in trouble for some of the things that we did and should have done a little differently. ... People don't realize that we are human and we will make mistakes."

Harvick spent much of 2002 on probation after being suspended for the April race at Martinsville for rough driving. He didn't expect this probation to affect his driving.

"For the most part, you just have to go out and race and, hopefully, it all shakes out," Harvick said. "I'm still racing for first, second, third, fourth, whatever, in the championship. ... This won't make any difference."

Rudd was not penalized, but his crew chief, Pat Tryson, was fined $5,000 for his part in the Richmond melee.