Fort Worth, Texas — Matt Kenseth feels terrible about the wreck that left Kevin Harvick last among the eight drivers still eligible in NASCAR’s championship chase.
And Kenseth would be just as frustrated as Harvick, who seemed to promise retaliation after last week’s race at Martinsville.
“I couldn’t feel any worse about it, and I hope he has a really good week this week or next week and wins one of these races,” Kenseth said Friday. “I know he doesn’t want to be taken out of it for something he had nothing to do with it, and I certainly don’t want to be the guy to take him out of it.”
Kenseth is fourth in the standings going into Sunday at Texas, one of two races remaining before the determination of the final four drivers who will compete for the season title in the finale at Homestead.
After speaking with reporters Friday, Kenseth was seen in the garage with Harvick.
That was the first time the two had spoken since Martinsville and the response there by Harvick that “(Kenseth) won’t win this championship. If we don’t, he won’t.”
Harvick had no scheduled media availability Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, and after practice walked into his hauler without stopping to answer questions.
Kenseth said he can’t be worried about the possibility of Harvick retaliating on the track.
“He knows it was a mistake, I’ve tried to make it as right as I can possibly make it, and move on from there,” Kenseth said. “I can only control my own car, and what I do, and all that stuff, and obviously I did a poor job of that last weekend, so we’ll just go from there.”
After starting 33rd at Martinsville, Kenseth had moved into the top 10 before Kenseth spun just past the halfway point. That collected Harvick, whose car suffered considerable damage. Harvick finished 33rd, last among all the Chase drivers, and fell to eighth in the standings.
“I can’t fix the situation. It’s done. … It’s terrible timing, wrong place at the wrong time. I understand his frustration,” Kenseth said Friday. “You hate making mistakes. You hate wrecking yourself, and you really hate taking somebody else out with your mistake.”
Kenseth said the only way he could feel worse about what happened was if he had taken out one of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates.
Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing, spoke with the clearly frustrated Harvick as soon as he got out of the torn-up car at Martinsville.
“But he seems to do well when his back is against the wall and I think he wants it. Nobody is going to give you it,” Zipadelli said. “Racing for years, you got to go earn it, you got to race it and some days things stack against you, and you’ve got to go see what you’re made of. We’ll go to the next couple of races and see what we’ve got. I believe in our people, I believe in our equipment, so we’ve just got to do it.”
Harvick, who makes his 500th career Sprint Cup start Sunday, has never won at Texas but is a five-time winner at Phoenix, including earlier this year. He may now have to win one of those races to get into the final four at Homestead because of what happened last week.
Kenseth’s crew chief, Jason Ratcliff, said Harvick has “every reason to be frustrated. I would be, too.
“Hopefully, it’s over,” Ratcliff said. “We’ll see.”
F1 fiscal problems
Formula One’s third year back at the U.S. Grand Prix in Texas should be a solid benchmark for expanding the series’ footprint in a rich but largely untapped market for fans and money.
Looking inward, F1 has some troubles.
Two teams, Marussia and Caterham, won’t race in Austin because of financial problems. That leaves Sunday’s race with just 18 cars, F1’s smallest starting grid in nearly a decade, prompting new warnings from the sport’s governing body to control costs.
In three seasons, Caterham had failed to win a single point and Marussia’s grand total is two. At the Circuit of the Americas, there’s no sign the teams even exist. One garage sits empty while another has been taken over by tire supplier Pirelli.
Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest times in two practice sessions at the U.S. Grand Prix, but abandoned the second session with about 10 minutes to go to deal with engine problems.
Hamilton’s fastest lap at the Circuit of the Americas was 1 minute, 39.085 seconds in the afternoon. His Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg was .003 seconds behind.
Hamilton is chasing his second world championship. He won the title in 2008 with McLaren and has a 17-point lead over Rosberg with 100 still available in the final three races.
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