LOUDON, N.H. — As soon as Kevin Harvick bumped and passed Kyle Busch with six laps left in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, many NASCAR fans likely wondered the same thing:
“What on Earth is Busch gonna say or do after this race?”
Harvick utilized the aggressive move to best one of the sport’s most aggressive drivers and win Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. And while the bump no-doubt angered Busch, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was surprisingly calm after finishing runner-up at the Magic Mile.
“It’s all fair game when you’re racing,” he said after the race.
Busch, though occasionally childish, isn’t clueless: He knows he’s invited this type of racing from other drivers.
“How you race is how you get raced,” he said.
As close as Busch came to expressing total humility, he couldn’t quite leave the Granite State without throwing a slight (verbal) jab at Harvick.
“We weren’t the best car in the long run, all them (Stewart-Haas Racing) cars were really, really good today, they were all fast,” Busch said. ” … Three, four, five (bumps in corners) in a row, and with a faster car, I’m not sure you had to do it, but he did — it’s fine.”
Busch also said that, if nothing else, he expected Harvick would wait longer and try to pass him clean. Harvick had different ideas, however.
“No, I figured that’s exactly what he was thinking,” Harvick said when asked whether he considered waiting longer to make his move. “I knew I needed to take the opportunity as early as I could get it because I knew that he was thinking ‘late.’
“I needed to do it when he wasn’t expecting it because the more opportunities you (give Busch) to get in his wheelhouse, in his thought process, the less chance that you have — he’s that good.”
So, was Harvick’s mission to win at all costs?
“Your goal is to not wreck him,” Harvick said after the race. “Your goal is to move him out of the groove and get away him far enough because you know they’re going to be mad.
” … I knew he was going to be tough to pass. Kyle Busch is tough to pass when he has control of the race, and for me, that was the moment that I needed to make it happen.”
While Busch doesn’t sound like someone who has revenge on his mind, Harvick isn’t convinced “Rowdy” will let him off the hook.
“You do (expect retaliation),” Harvick said, “And you worry about that stuff later.”
The win was Harvick’s sixth of the season and third at NHMS. He still sits in second behind Busch in the Cup standings, though.
The Cup Series now will head for Pennsylvania with the Gander Outdoors 400 scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images