Kevin Harvick offered a spirited defense of his friend and boss, Tony Stewart, in the wake of the death of Kevin Ward Jr. on a dirt track in upstate New York earlier this month.
Stewart has been in seclusion as an investigation into the incident, in which he struck and killed Ward on Aug. 9, continues. Harvick, who drives for the Stewart-Haas team, said he has spoken to Stewart only through intermediaries, but admitted he is angry at how Stewart is being perceived by some.
“I think, for me, the most frustrating part was just the fact, just the perception from a lot of unknowledgeable people about our sport in general and the perception that was given to Tony in the accident,” Harvick said (via Motorsportstalk). “Obviously, it was a very tragic accident; you have someone who’s dead. But on the other side of that fence, you have somebody that I know for a fact, not [just] in my heart but I know for a fact that he’s not just going to run somebody over on purpose and say, ‘This is how I’m going to handle this.’”
Harvick was particularly critical of coverage by reporters who don’t cover NASCAR regularly.
“I think as you look at that and you see all the stories that have come out and all the things that they’ve put in that mix with the highlight reels of a pit crew member [being hit] on a pit stop or [a driver] getting out and throwing your helmet or whatever the case may be, they can make that highlight reel for just about every one of us that have been in this garage,” Harvick said. “At some point in time, you’ve probably hit a crew member, you’ve probably got mad and thrown something, or been in an altercation or blown up or whatever the case may be. But they can make that highlight reel out of everybody. It’s really just when you get into these outlets that are just looking for the controversial topic, it’s just not been right.
“That part frustrates me because I know Tony as a person. That’s been the hardest part for me to deal with.”
There’s no word yet whether Stewart will miss his fourth consecutive NASCAR race since the tragedy. Over the weekend, Stewart-Haas competition director Greg Zipadelli admitted that being in limbo in a situation for which there is no template is “just an emotional roller coaster all week, you know what I mean? It is what it is. We do the best we can with what we’ve got right now. We’ll keep praying, keep our fingers crossed that we get the boss back sooner rather than later.”