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NASCAR official fires back at Kevin Harvick’s comment

A senior NASCAR executive fired back Tuesday at Kevin Harvick’s comment about the Next Gen car’s woes due to “crappy-ass parts.”

Harvick made the comment after a fire forced him out of the Cup playoff opener Sept. 4 at Darlington Raceway.

Harvick doubled down Monday after his left front tire came off when he exited his pit stall in last weekend’s race at Bristol, costing him a chance to win and advance in the playoffs. Harvick began selling a T-shirt that said: “Happy’s Crappy-Ass Parts 4 Less”

Some teams had power steering issues and others had right front tires blow this past weekend at Bristol.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, was asked on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about the issues at Bristol.

“Bristol is definitely a unique load case,” Miller said. “Some things cropped up with the steering that weren’t expected. Honestly no excuse, but with the newness of this car and the newness of everything, I think that it’s not acceptable to have problems, but it’s probably part of the learning process for us.

“All the teams and (manufacturers) were involved in the RFP process when we chose the parts. Everybody’s got a stake in this, and it’s not just NASCAR choosing quote-unquote, crappy parts.”

Asked about the state of the car heading into the final seven races of the playoffs, Miller said:

“With every part of this car actually being a new part and a new design, I think historically in racing, and in any walk of life, when you do something completely new … there’s a learning curve.

“We’re in that learning curve and working really hard to make sure that everything works. I think for the most part it has.

“We did have some steering issues at Bristol. That is, again, a part that was chosen through the RFP process, and it is team-serviceable. That’s where we are right now.

“Are we looking to improve on when we have problems? We absolutely 100% are every single day. What happened at Bristol was not acceptable. We will diligently work to come up with a solution to where that doesn’t happen again.”

Miller also addressed when cautions were called or not called at Bristol for tires blowing.

“Every incident is unique,” Miller said. “Every visual that we have on an incident is also unique. We don’t have 36 sets of eyes glued to each and every car. We have a bunch of us up there (in the NASCAR booth) that kind of act as spotters. We don’t always see the beginning of an incident.

“We have to point that out. Whoever sees it, points it out to the race director. The race director analyzes the situation as he sees it and puts the caution out at his discretion on what he sees. Now we don’t have the ability to go, obviously, watch replays and watch the incident.

“Cautions are … a quick call and there is going to be some judgment in those no matter how you look at it. I would love to be able to define what creates a caution and what doesn’t, but it’s impossible because every incident is completely different from the last one and completely different from the next one.”

The issue of when cautions are called came up in the May 22 All-Star Race when NASCAR stated the race director “prematurely” called a caution flag for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hitting the wall on the last scheduled lap of the event.

The caution waved just as Ryan Blaney crossed the finish line. Thinking he had won, Blaney lowered his window net, only to be told that the All-Star Race — unlike other Cup races — had to end under green-flag conditions.

Blaney scrambled to put the window net in place before the race resumed. Officials were satisfied with what he did and allowed him to remain on track. He won in overtime.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR vice president of officiating and technical inspection, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on May 24 that there would be changes in the process of how NASCAR calls cautions to avoid a repeat of that situation

“The race director is filtering through that information to ultimately make the decision,” Sawyer said of the call for a caution during a race. “As we go forward, what we’re looking at is how do we get more voices involved in that process there to make sure it is not just one person having to say, bam, put (the caution) out.”