Kevin Harvick explains his decision to be more outspoken

Kevin Harvick


Kevin Harvick has explained his move to speak out louder for safety.

Kevin Harvick has been very candid about the Next Gen Cup Series cars and driver safety over the past few weeks. Now he has declared his decision to become the voting leader on this important matter.

Harvick met with members of the media at the Kansas Speedway for nearly 15 minutes and spent the entire time discussing the fires, hard hits and other safety concerns. He said he received no calls from NASCAR and that he used the media to get his message across. Harvick then explained why he took this approach.

“It just feels right for my colleagues,” Harvick explained. “I checked it out. I’ve watched this whole process when it’s too slow. You want to believe it’s just gonna happen, right? Just the process and the way things are going to go.”

The potential boiling point for Harvick came during the playoff opener at Darlington Raceway. His car caught fire without prior contact with the wall or other drivers. Harvick got out of his car and made strong comments about the cars used to several members of the media. Meanwhile, crew chief Rodney Childers posted a video on Instagram showing him burning the material lining the vehicles’ interiors.

NASCAR made some changes ahead of Kansas Speedway weekend with the ultimate goal of preventing these fires that were rampant throughout the 2022 season. Although Harvick noted that this change could have been made much sooner.

“Why does the foam melt? Do we know those answers?” Harvick asked during his availability. “They’re not as fire retardant as they should be. The only reason I stopped this weekend was because of the flames getting into the damn car. Everything used to be made of steel here. And you look at the foam, all the foam, it looks like a marshmallow.

“So, you know, I think now everything is coated with the coating that we presented two months ago. That doesn’t burn on the right side of the car. As I said, things have evolved. And we are here today. But it can’t be that slow. There’s just no reason. It’s not fair to drivers to be compromised like we are now and not have at least a progression plan. And it’s not just a rear clip. It’s a front clip, a back clip, sideways, every hit hurts.”

Harvick is assisted by other drivers

Ryan Blaney

GettyRyan Blaney (left) has shown his support for Kevin Harvick (right).

Harvick has been the most outspoken driver about safety and potential issues he sees with the next-gen car. This has caught the attention of its competitors, and many have shown their support.

Ryan Blaney, in particular, commented that he believes “it speaks more volume” when Harvick makes these statements. Blaney added that he can’t speak for everyone in the Cup Series garage, but he “likes what Kevin is doing” in the media.

“It just carries a lot of weight,” Blaney said. “Kevin was there. He’s seen all these different race cars. There are many people who have seen all these different types of cars, from the COT (Car of Tomorrow) to the previous generation and this generation. Even some…many people, before COT.

“They’ve just seen everything and they’ve experienced everything, so they have the most knowledge about different types of cars and how safety has become over the last 15-20 years. They have a lot of influence when it comes to things like that, I just feel because they have more experience.”

Harvick called for the participation of an independent panel

How is NASCAR addressing the safety concerns? Harvick doesn’t think they can pull that off in the offseason. He explained that the short time would make it difficult to get everything done from the Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum.

One thing Harvick requested is that NASCAR introduce an independent body. There is a Driver Advisory Board which includes former driver Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Corey LaJoie, Austin Dillon and Joey Logano. However, Harvick believes the independent panel could move faster in implementing changes.

“Security should not be about money. I lived that man,” added Harvick. “I watched… I watched when we were having all this trouble with Adam [Petty] and Kenny Irwin and then it led to Dale Earnhardt and all of a sudden it was mandatory to wear Hans gear, it was mandatory to wear the Hutchins gear.

“We have developed soft walls. It can’t be slow, security can’t be slow. This car is… it’s so messed up it crashes. And whether the data says so or not, every driver in this garage will tell you that’s not right and it hurts. Feet hurt, hands hurt, head hurts. And there has to be a better solution.”

According to NASCAR, there is an independent panel with which it consults on safety issues and the next generation car. This group includes Jeff Crandall, who serves as director of the Center for Applied Biomechanics at the University of Virginia, and Barry S. Myers, a member of the Duke Faculty of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopedic Surgery.

The other two members of the panel are James Raddin Jr., a physician and engineer specializing in human impact prediction and injury biomechanics, and Joel Stitzel Jr., director of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. Kevin Harvick explains his decision to be more outspoken

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