The on-track incidents and post-race confrontation between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch last week at Darlington have been well documented. After a meeting in NASCAR's hauler the drivers emerged with smirks on their faces, unrepentant for their actions and not-so-subtly hinting that their feud was far from over.
It seems clear that more sparks will fly as NASCAR heads to Dover International Speedway this weekend. The drivers will be racing in the truck series race on Friday night as well as the Sprint Cup event on Sunday.
The possibilities for drama and on-track retaliation are almost endless. Harvick and Busch are both known as NASCAR bad boys and are not afraid to get down and dirty when they feel they've been wronged.
Harvick feels he was wrecked by Busch. Busch is upset over Harvick's attempt to punch him while he was trapped in his car on pit road with nowhere to go—except through Harvick's car, turning it into the wall. Naturally, Harvick and his crew were none too pleased by this.
With these events in mind, allow me to present five possible scenarios for the showdown between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch at the Monster Mile this weekend.
Scenario #1: Harvick decides to send an early message to Busch that he's not to be messed with.
During Cup practice Harvick spins out Busch just like he did to Hamlin in the midst of their 2010 championship chase. Harvick and Busch talk things over (courtesy of a mandatory chat session called by NASCAR) and smooth things over. The two engage in some bumping and shoving when they're near each other during the truck race but don't actually wreck each other. During the Cup race the two are hardly ever racing together as Busch wins the race and Harvick struggles to run in the top 10.
Excitement grade: 4 out of 10. Practice doesn't get much more interesting than when two drivers decide to have at it. Spectators at the truck race are disappointed when Harvick and Busch don't actually wreck each other. By the time the Cup race rolls around, the feud is over for all intents and purposes.
Scenario #2: Cooler heads prevail.
All the bluster and media hype amounts to nothing as Busch and Harvick decide not to risk having NASCAR move beyond fines and dock them in the points or even levy suspensions. Fans who attend the truck race for the possibility of seeing the drivers take out their revenge on one another on the track complain that they didn't get their money's worth.
Excitement grade: 1 out of 10. This is the worst scenario from a fan standpoint. NASCAR fans love nothing as much as a rivalry, especially one that involves two drivers with polarizing personalities having at it on the track. Harvick and Busch playing nice would be a major disappointment, to say the least.
Scenario #3: After taking cheap shots at each other all week leading up to the races, every fan's best dream comes true as the gloves come off.
In the truck race, Busch wrecks Harvick early and goes on to win the race while Harvick and his wife DeLana are fuming in the garage beside their wrecked truck. The next day during the Cup event Harvick gets his revenge early.
Added bonus: In a reenactment of Homestead last November, Denny Hamlin complains to Harvick after the race that his RCR teammates had been racing him hard all day. Harvick responds: "I just parked yours."
Excitement grade: 10 out of 10. This scenario would be wildly entertaining for the fans and would leave the media wondering what to do with all the drama surrounding the controversy. However, it's unlikely that the drivers would so brazenly flaunt NASCAR's warnings following last week's altercation. Harvick and Busch are both on four weeks probation and don't want to risk a suspension that could jeopardize their chances of making the Chase. No one knows how severely NASCAR would punish the drivers, but they likely won't risk pushing the envelope that far. But it's okay for a fan to hope for maximum excitement, right?
Scenario #4: Trouble brewing in the trucks, tempers cool by Sunday.
The drivers trash-talk each other relentlessly. In the truck race, Busch and Harvick qualify and run up front. On a late-race restart, Harvick spins out Busch and goes on to win the race. The two are called back to the NASCAR hauler where they are warned not to mess around with each other during Sunday's Cup race. They begrudgingly comply. Kyle Busch, even though he got the worst end of the bargain by getting wrecked in the truck race, realizes he has more to lose with his M&M-based younger fan demographic if he pushes things too far.
Excitement grade: 7 out of 10. This would be great for all the fans going to the truck race, but those fans headed to Dover, DE on Sunday only (myself included) would feel like they missed all the fun.
Scenario #5: Have at it...ladies!
Harvick and Busch qualify on the front row in the truck race. To accentuate the drama, they choose pit stalls right next to each other. They take to the track and start beating and banging on each other. Inevitably one or the other of them (or both) gets taken out. Meanwhile, on pit road, their wives start to fight it out between themselves. Harvick and Busch are forced to intercede and separate their wives. They realize the situation has gotten out of hand and decide to settle their differences before the Cup race on Sunday.
Excitement grade: 9 out of 10. Harvick's wife DeLana somehow seems to get dragged into her husband's altercations (remember Joey Logano's comment last season that "his wife wears the fire-suit in the family"). The media would have a field-day with drama of this type. The only drawback would be that the fun would be over before most fans even showed up at the track.