If Kevin Harvick doesn’t want to deal with inexperienced drivers like Amber Cope, he shouldn’t race in the Nationwide series
Much has been made of the Kevin Harvick-Amber Cope beef that erupted after Saturday’s Nationwide series race at New Hampshire.
I’m going to focus most of this column on what I think was a childish and irrational response by Harvick after the race, but first let me delve into the Amber Cope issue. Harvick said she is not fit to be on the racetrack.
My take: She definitely has a lot to learn. No doubt, she should have been out of Harvick’s way at that point in the race, and hopefully she will learn from this experience. Because, after all, I might remind Harvick, the Nationwide series is a place where drivers learn things on their way up the ladder. This was only the second Nationwide race of Amber Cope’s career; of course she’s not going to run great. In fact, she is probably going to run terrible.
Before you even assess her driving skills, her car didn’t even take the green and was 20+ laps down at the start of the race due to mechanical issues. Then, after she got on track, it went several more laps down due to the obvious discrepancy in her car vs. the field.
She’s the definition of a rookie, and yes she is far from the talent level of people like Harvick, or even Nationwide regulars who run up front. I’m not claiming that she is a super talent, and I have no idea how she is compared to Danica Patrick. I haven’t seen her race enough to judge that.
All I’ll say on Amber is this. With her level of experience, Harvick should have expected about the level of racing that he saw from the 24 car. To expect more and then insult her, well that’s just illogical.
What exactly happened
With 22 laps left in the race, Harvick got slowed down after he was caught behind Cope; who more than 30 laps down at the time. Brad Keselowski took the lead and the victory; arguably because of Cope being in the way and making him slow down. You could also argue that a veteran like Harvick should have done a better job maneuvering around her, but that’s another debate. It’s clear she at least played a role.
Then the back-and-forth started:
Harvick said after the race:
"The 24 (of Cope) all day just had no clue what direction—I don't know if that's a guy or a girl so we'll call it an ‘it'—which way it was going and it committed up the racetrack and I committed to the bottom and then it came back down," Harvick said. "It's not one of those deals. It's somebody who shouldn't be on the racetrack that has no clue what they're doing in the racecar. She wants to be Danica Patrick, but she can't hold (Patrick's) helmet."
This is just uncalled for. Say she screwed up, maybe act as a mentor and explain to her how she could race better. But to call her names because you’re a sore loser and got passed at the end is just childlike. It’s a temper tantrum.
Harvick continued on Twitter.
“Looking forward to tomorrow should be an intense race! Best part about it is I know the #24 will be able to drive straight tomorrow!”
To her credit, Amber didn’t back down. She defended her case, posting photos to show another car in the upper groove and said she had nowhere else to go.
She wrote: “@KevinHarvick Way to go tough guy. I bet if u take a moment in your arrogance u will realize your fault @keselowski figured it out”
She went on to tweet: "Just bc u say it does not make it right!!!" and "Mr @kevinharvick...where should I go? I will take the apologies Monday! ASS!"
and "I guess he forgot his journey" and "I know I can hold a helmet."
Harvick comes off as sore loser, fails to understand difference between Cup and Nationwide series
I have a memo to Kevin Harvick: It simply reads “Nationwide is not the Cup series; don’t expect the same talent.”
They are two different series; two different levels of competition, and he should get used to it.
Here’s how it breaks down in my view: Cup has 5 or 6 start and parks, 20+ competitors who are legitimate contenders to win; and about a dozen slow cars who are still driven by talented drivers in bad equipment.
Nationwide features a dozen start and parks; about a dozen contenders; AND about 20 slow cars, some much worse than others and covering a wide range of development levels. It’s a developmental series; so the Cup drivers moonlighting there need to get used to slow traffic who might not always be in the right place at the right time.
Yes, Cope should have been out of Harvick’s way since she was so many laps down, but NASCAR approved her to race so she obviously passed whatever test they have to prove yourself eligible. Harvick doesn’t know better than NASCAR in this regard. He’s not the judge of who should and shouldn’t race.
The way Harvick comes off looking in this whole tiff is just bad, bad, bad.
The worst comment came after the initial war of words. On Sunday morning, asked by ESPN whether he would have an apology for Amber, as she said on Twitter she awaited, Harvick said: “Pick some boots and your favorite song and find a new job.”
I’m guessing he indicated she should be a stripper instead of a race car driver. Classy Kevin. Very classy. (well, maybe Ron Burgundy style classy)
Stay in your own series
Kevin Harvick has won plenty of Nationwide races. As far as I’m concerned, he and Cup drivers shouldn’t even be tinkering in the nationwide races. What is the point? They’re not made for him and his Cup brethren. They are made for up and coming drivers, like Amber Cope, who are trying to make their name in the sport. All they are doing is taking seats away from young drivers would could be honing their skills.
If Harvick is going to complain about the quality of competition in the lower series, I say don’t show up. Most likely, what happened with Cope won’t happen to you by any of the lapped cars in Cup. (though Ryan Newman is notorious hard to pass; a la Dave Marcis back in the day).
It’s like a MLB catcher going to play in a AAA game and then complaining that the pitcher isn’t throwing the game right. Of course he isn’t, he is not at your level.
Harvick is a Cup veteran; he’s never won a Cup, but he’s won a ton of races, and frankly I do not understand why he bothers monkeying around in these lower series. This kind of dabbling is a recipe for disaster, as he is almost guaranteed to be running against a bunch of amateurs. That’s what the series is for – D-E-V-E-L-O-P-M-E-N-T. If Amber Cope had run this way in the Cup series, I could see his complaint being legit. But she’s in the proper series – the lower ones. That’s where you learn, and presumable she will learn from this.
And the end result – Kevin Harvick’s comments make him look like a jackass.