Race Weekend Central

What’s Vexing Vito?: Hard Luck Harvick

All the NASCAR world was atwitter this week regarding Kevin Harvick’s comments following the New Hampshire Nationwide Series race. With 22 laps to go, he ran up on the (multiple) lapped car of Amber Cope. While she was passed by two other back markers on the outside in the middle of turn 2 without issue, Harvick then decided to go low to get by her exiting the corner. Cope was pulling down to give way to the lap cars, however leader Harvick went where she was going, and had to slow up.

This broke his momentum and let a rapidly closing Brad Keselowski catch and pass him for the win. Harvick’s post-race comments and ensuing Twitter back and forth with the Cope sisters Amber and Angela (they act as one – as all twins do) were peppered with comments from him that she doesn’t belong out there, cost him the win, and was looking forward to the Cup race because the No. 24 car in that event would drive straight.

OK, let’s pump the brakes here on this one, as this seemed to dominate the racing landscape the first few days of this week.

First of all, if the other cars that were in sight of Harvick made it by cleanly on the outside, why didn’t he follow suit? Second, if he was so fast, why didn’t he catch Keselowski’s No. 22 Dodge Challenger over the next 20 miles? Kes won by .717 seconds, or about four car lengths. He was never really seriously challenged after edging by Harvick.

Harvick then went on to say he had no idea who was driving the No. 24 car. Wow, so as a competitor and a former team owner, you have just zero interest in who you’re competing against? Wasn’t that the whole point of Cup regulars racing in the lower feeder series, to help the new drivers learn from the best, show them the ropes, and keep them from making mistakes on the track? If you don’t know who you’re racing against, that’s kind of on you.

No, you’re not a babysitter, but come on, at least know who is in what car. You’re in a motorhome all weekend, like you can watch X-Men: First Class THAT many times.

No, Amber Cope is not at Danica Patrick’s level just yet. Heck she might only be at Dan Patrick’s level in a racecar at this stage of her game. That being said, should we really be that upset about a Cup regular showing up to a Nationwide event and getting bent because he got roughed up a little and ended up losing to another Cup regular? Isn’t that the reason you guys don’t get points anymore? The bottom line is, he still had nearly 10% of the race to catch the winner and didn’t get it done, and could have followed the other cars who passed her without incident – including winner Brad Keselowski.

Too bad, so sad. Nice work forgetting to say hi to your wife and newborn at home, and instead whining about a Nationwide race.

Osborne Steps Down

With Bob Osborne stepping down as Carl Edwards‘s crew chief, citing undisclosed health concerns, might Roush Fenway Racing be losing another key cog in the machine? Osborne and Edwards have won 18 races together, tied for last year’s Sprint Cup championship and finished second as well in 2008, ultimately felled by a failed ignition box at Charlotte during the Chase. Longtime Roush Nationwide crew chief Chad Norris assumes the role and looks to salvage the 2012 season while preparing for 2013 and the next generation Car of Tomorrow.

We’ve seen this migration before of veteran crew chiefs within the Roush empire throughout the years pull back from race day duties to management roles. Steve Hmiel, an original architect of Roush Racing’s early years, did so before moving into management roles with DEI and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, as has Robbie Reiser, Matt Kenseth’s longtime crew chief. Jimmy Fennig received a bit of a breather in 2006 heading up their Busch Series efforts.

The last several months have been trying for Osborne, having narrowly lost the title on a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart, then losing his father before the start of the 2012 season. Best wishes to Bob Osborne in taking the time to get things right in his world. They’re just racecars, they’re aren’t going to come visit you in the hospital if you’re sick.

Make Way for… Kurtonio DiBuschelli?

One rumor that seems to be gathering momentum is that of Andretti Autosport fielding a NASCAR team in 2013 with Dodge as the manufacturer and engine supplier (purchased from Penske) and Kurt Busch as the driver. Busch was a key part of Dodge’s NASCAR involvement, essentially carrying the brand on his back until Keselowski came on the scene in 2010 with a Nationwide title, and last year with his three wins and wildcard Chase appearance.

There aren’t many Italians competing in NASCAR these days, save for Joey Logano and Max Papis. So how would Busch fair driving for another legend of open-wheeled competition?

It’s actually a pretty good match if you think about it. Being Italian, we routinely lose it, scream, cuss and get emotional… just like Kurt has been wont to do. There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to this –“I’m Not Yelling, I’m Italian, That’s How We Talk.”  He just needs to learn how to talk with his hands more.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s why we haven’t fared so well in NASCAR; we keep taking our hands off the wheel to describe to the crew chief what the car needs in the middle of the race.

About the author


Vito is one of the longest-tenured writers at Frontstretch, joining the staff in 2007. With his column Voice of Vito (monthly, Fridays) he’s a contributor to several other outlets, including Athlon Sports and Popular Speed in addition to making radio appearances. He forever has a soft-spot in his heart for old Mopars and presumably oil-soaked cardboard in his garage.

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