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Post-Charlotte Brawl Has Drivers Wary Of ‘Dega

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 12 2014

Kevin Harvick won Saturday night's Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway but events afterward could make for scary day at Talladega next weekend. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Tim Parks)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

CONCORD, N.C. – Ever since the season began Talladega has been the Chase race dreaded the most by the competitors and after the post-race fights at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Bank of America 500 winner Kevin Harvick would prefer to simply watch next week’s event.

“It’ll be one hell of a race to watch,” Harvick said Saturday night after securing a spot in the next round with his third victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Only Harvick and Kansas winner Joey Logano are guaranteed positions in the Chase’s next round. Logano still leads the standings, but only by six points over Kyle Busch. Harvick, Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards round out the top five, respectively. Only eight drivers will advance and currently, that doesn’t include Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“Nobody wants to deal with Talladega,” said second-place finisher Jeff Gordon, who’s sixth in the standings, just 18 points ahead of Kenseth in ninth. “Everybody would like to take the weekend off there if they could.”

And after the confrontations that erupted following the Bank of America 500, that sentiment probably intensified. Various on-track incidents in the 334-lap race led to the post-race confrontations involving Keselowski, Hamlin, Kenseth and Stewart.

“Rough night,” Keselowski Tweeted after the event. “Understand a lot of folks may not understand everything that happened and that’s OK. I’m not perfect, but also not the only one.”

The fireworks erupted on the cool-down lap. Hamlin brake checked Keselowski on the backstretch. Then in turns three and four, Keselowski went up the track after Hamlin and hit him in an apparent attempt to spin him. He then came onto pit road and hit Kenseth, who had already removed his HANS device and safety belts. Keselowski then appeared to hit the back of Stewart, who put his car in reverse and slammed into the front of Keselowski’s car. In the garage, Hamlin was restrained from going after Keselowski. However, as Keselowski walked between two transporters Kenseth ran after him and grabbed him from behind.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Tweeted afterwards: “It was wicked cool how much Matt tackling Brad looked like an episode of Cops TV.”

Crew chief Paul Wolfe attempted to pull Kenseth off his driver and then a multitude of crew members joined the fray. A NASCAR official escorted Jesse Sanders, a member of Kenseth’s crew to the NASCAR hauler. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff went to the NASCAR hauler as the No. 20 team representative.

NASCAR summoned Keselowski to the mobile office. NASCAR Vice President for Competition Robin Pemberton said they had a better understanding of the events after talking with Keselowski. He said NASCAR would continue to gather the facts before issuing any penalties.

“When you see Matt Kenseth mad enough to fight, you know that this is intense because that’s way out of character for him,” Harvick said after claiming his 26th career victory. “I didn’t see what happened between the 2 (Keselowski) and the 11 (Hamlin), but I saw the 2 hang a right and just stuff the 20 (Kenseth) in the fence and we all checked up, and the 20 hit the fence. Every moment matters in this Chase and Matt Kenseth knew that one particular moment could have been the end of his Chase.”

Harvick said the new Chase format is so intense that it “makes me want to puke every week.”

“It consumes everything that you do,” said Harvick, who led six times for 162 laps in the race that had eight caution flags for 39 laps and 32 lead changes among 14 drivers. “It’s not about worrying about how many points you have or who’s where or who’s doing what. It’s how are we going to try to figure out how to win this race so we don’t have to throw up all week and go to Talladega.”

Crew chief Rodney Childers said he ate Pepto-Bismol tablets throughout Saturday night’s race. Childers figures that by the time the series gets to the season finale at Homestead he should have stock in Pepto-Bismol.

“It’s only going to intensify from here on out,” Gordon said.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 12 2014
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