Kevin Harvick, center, finished second in the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday to solidify his place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Kevin Harvick used most of his post-race news conference Sunday at Michigan International Speedway to defend Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Tony Stewart, and express his displeasure with the way Stewart’s sprint car incident has been covered.
Stewart did not participate in the Pure Michigan 400, his second straight missed race, after hitting and killing 20-year-old driver Kevin Ward, Jr., on Aug. 9.
Ward exited his car to confront Stewart following a crash, and the back end of Stewart's car hit Ward, which led some to speculate publicly as to whether there was intent on Stewart's part.
Harvick, who finished second Sunday, said such reports were unfair.
“It's an absolute tragic accident that has happened on both sides of the fence. You got one young man who's dead and, you know, you have a guy that we know and [is] part of an organization that is just getting a lot of just crazy press,” Harvick said.
“I've known Tony Stewart for a long time, and you look and you see what happened. I still don't believe that [Stewart], even knew that he ran into [Ward's] car. I know for sure that Tony Stewart is not going to just run over somebody that's on a race track.
“I don't think there's anybody in this garage that could. It'd be hard to find somebody in the racing world that could just point that car and just run somebody over.”
Harvick said much of the coverage of Stewart has come from media that is not familiar with racing.
“You have just a lot of unknowledgeable people reporting on a situation that know absolutely nothing about racing.
“It's just really unfortunate the perception that has been given to him,” Harvick said of Stewart.
“That's the part that's bothered me the most, the poor misrepresentation on the media side for him.”
On Sunday, Harvick locked up his fourth consecutive top-10 and 12th career top 10 at MIS, further strengthening an already clinched spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Though he did not lead during the race, Harvick was pleased with the way the day played out. He said his team is on track heading into the Chase, which begins Sept. 14.
With Stewart's immediate future uncertain, Harvick said the rest of Stewart-Haas has to remain committed with the season's biggest races remaining.
“Everybody just has to pitch in and do their part, and do everything we can to help Tony get through his situation.
“There's a lot of strong people at our company,” Harvick said.
“I think it's added more fire to everybody to step up and keep everything headed in the right direction.”