Handicap matches. In wrestling, it's when one wrestler has to face not one but TWO opponents. You'd have be nuts to do that, right?
Not nuts...happy. As in, Happy Harvick.
In 2005, Harvick got himself involved in a handicap match before the season even got officially started. A feud between he and future Cup champion Jimmie Johnson had already begun after an incident in Phoenix the previous year, and one with "Front Row" Joe Nemechek would reach it's climax later on in the season.
We'll begin with a good ole qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway, where Harvick spun Johnson out in Turn Two. The incident collected Nemechek, Rusty Wallace, Dave Blaney, and Mark Martin. Martin, Wallace and Harvick were forced to go to back ups.
Johnson was obviously upset.
"I was riding along and he pulled his head off his shoulders and tried bump-drafting in the turn," Johnson said. "I guess all those years of watching TV and worshiping racing like he says he did, he didn't watch much of it and realize you're not supposed to bump- draft in the middle of the turn.
"It's a shame. He just tore up six or seven good racecars. I hope Childress either fires him or NASCAR does something about him, because this is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous."
Harvick said he saw the No. 48 get loose, and spun him out because he got off the throttle.
"I just got to him and he checked up and I got to him and I couldn't get off him," Harvick said. "I just spun him out and I feel sorry for the teams and everybody involved.
"It's not something where you want to bump-draft in the middle of the corner. But I hate it. But I just got to him and he slowed down and got sideways, and I got the back of him."
Nemechek said Harvick "just drives stupid" and said "he'll get it back. It was totally uncalled-for, what happened out there. Everybody is racing and he's trying to turn people around in the middle of the corner."
While Childress didn't fire Harvick, NASCAR was listening when Johnson called for action, and called he, crew chief Chad Knaus, team owner Rick Hendrick, along with Harvick, crew chief Todd Berrier and owner Richard Childress to the NASCAR hauler to get the issue resolved.
Harvick admitted fault, shook hands with his former rival, and agreed to a "secret meeting," which the two had in Johnson's trailer the next day.
"It wasn't pleasurable, but it was needed," Johnson said of the meeting.
"Whether there was a rivalry, paybacks, whatever you want to call it, I mean, this is not the place you do those kind of things," Harvick said. "We both just want to win.
"After we all watched the tapes and really realized that it was a racing incident, you all come to an understanding and they kind of just left it up to us. (It was) nothing, nothing really major. We all sat down and that was it."
So, that issue was resolved. But Nemechek must have the memory of an elephant, because in May he got his revenge on Happy Harvick. Except, it was accident...
At the NEXTEL All-Star Race qualifying segment in May, Tony Stewart turned into Nemecheck's No. 01 ARMY Chevrolet, sending him into (who else?) his arch nemesis, Kevin Harvick.
And if you thought Harvick would be understanding, and realize it was all an accident... where have you been the last four parts?
After exiting their cars, Nemechek and Harvick got into a heated confrontation, that saw each lunge for one another's helmet, before a NASCAR official broke it up.
The two continued their argument later on, having an ugly exchange after they were released from the infield care center.
Nemechek: "Hey, I'm sorry about that, dude."
Harvick: "I'm starting to get tired of you wrecking me."
Nemechek: "I didn't start the deal."
Harvick: "You called me out at Daytona."
Nemechek: "Hey, if you wanna go at it..let's have at it, big boy."
Harvick: "But you know what, you need to take your old washed-up [butt] out of here...that's what you need to do."
"He (Harvick) must have thought I caused the incident," said Nemechek. "Kevin thinks he owns the world, but he doesn't own squat."
No fines were given out in result of the exchange, but I imagine NASCAR Director of Competition John Hunter had some familiar words for the regular visitor to the Oval Office.
What can you say? It's just Kevin Harvick being Kevin Harvick.
Thanks to NASCAR Scene Daily, NASCAR.com and Jayski.com for the quotes used in this piece.
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