The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wasn't running this weekend, but that doesn't mean it was an off-time for perennial competitors Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski. All arrived in Madison, Ill., for the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. Edwards did not race in the NCWTS event.
Gateway International Raceway hosted a double header on the 1.25-mile oval after a power failure forced the truck series race to the same day as the Nationwide race.
In the NNS race, Edwards survived multiple bumping attempts from Keselowski to bump the No. 22 to win the Dodge Dealers 250. Keselowski crashed.
Harvick overcame a sore neck and intense heat to take the NCWTS win in the CampingWorld.com 200. Keselowski finished second.
Before and after quotes from Edwards and Harvick reveal much about the track and post-race circumstances. Comments from Keselowski harbor a frustration that likely won't dissipate in the upcoming races.
FYI WIRZ will be searching for future comments from these drivers that may fuel or douse resentful sparks. More ‘have-at-it’ action is sure to follow.
Carl Edwards (No. 60 Ford NNS)
"I can't wait to race at Gateway International Raceway,” Edwards said. “It's a very unique and fun track. It has a long straightaway and turn 4 is a blast. I consider it my home track and I will have a lot of friends and family there. I want to give them a great show. The Sprint Cup Series is off this weekend, but we will have Aflac on our car as the primary. It would mean a lot to me and the whole team to get them in victory lane. This is a big race and we are coming off a great points weekend. It's time to build off of that, have fun and win."
"I just couldn't let him take the win from me. My guys work way too hard for that. We had a great restart. My guys built me a great car. We came to the checkered flag, and I hate to see stuff tore up, but we came here to win and he took it from us there in Turn 1. I had to do what I had to do."
Kevin Harvick (No. 2 Chevrolet NCWTS)
“We have always been really good on the flat track stuff,” Harvick said. “I got my first win in the Nationwide Series at that particular racetrack and now it’s just a fun place for us to go race. I really enjoy the flat tracks. For the most part, Gateway is not a place I’ve raced in a while, so it’s more getting used to the racetrack than it is getting used to the trucks.”
"I just got a kink in my neck, and it's gone all the way down to my shoulder, but the longer I ran today, it actually got better. I feel better than I did this morning. I've just got to relax in the car. If you get tense, it becomes more of an issue, but as the race went on, I got more and more relaxed and was able to tolerate it."
Brad Keselowski (No 22 Dodge NNS).
Keselowski complained about both winners for different reasons.
His comments about Harvick:
"The only way we were going to win the race is if he made a mistake," Keselowski said. "I felt like he did. He passed the pace car pitting. You're not supposed to do that. He got away with that one. We didn't catch that break, but we did all we could to put ourselves in the best position possible. We just needed a little bit more."
"I'd complain if I got beat that bad, too," Harvick said.
Keselowski was vocal about being involved in yet another wreck with Carl Edwards:
"He turned left into me and wrecked me on purpose," Keselowski said. "I gave him the lane, and he still wrecked me. I figured out a way to beat him. He wasn't happy with me, so he wrecked me. Wrecking down the straightaway is never cool, whether it's at 200 mph or 120. I'm sorry that's the way it had to end."
Carl Edwards’ response:
“But, man, I just couldn't let him take it from me,” Edwards said.
Photo credit of Keselowski and Edwards in happier moments: Dwight Drum @ Racetake.com