Most NASCAR driver nicknames, more or less, mean what they say. Kyle Busch really is "Rowdy" on the racetrack. Dale Earnhardt was "The Intimidator" in the eyes of his fellow racers. Richard Petty was, is, and always will be "The King" of NASCAR.
But, when Kevin Harvick was slapped with the "Happy Harvick" moniker, it was definitely meant as more of a tongue-in-cheek jab, because while he's certainly a smiling, good-natured guy most of the time, he's also been known to let his anger get the better of him on race day. The 22-year NASCAR vet has been notorious for getting into his fair share of scraps over the years, both verbal and physical. Here, we'll look at five times that Harvick used the power of the post-race interview mic to target his rivals.
Kevin Harvick vs. Ricky Rudd
Heading into the fall race at Richmond International Raceway back in 2003, Kevin Harvick was sitting at a solid third place in the point standings. That would all change after Ricky Rudd sent Harvick's No. 29 race car into the wall, causing him to finish 16th.
This led to a heated post-race physical altercation between Harvick, Rudd, and both of their crews, during which Harvick screamed obscenities at Rudd, walked on his car, and even threw his HANS device at him. After the dust had somewhat settled, Harvick continued to vent his frustration in a brief on-track interview.
"Ricky Rudd took a g**d*** cheap shot at us," Harvick said. "If he's going to take a cheap shot, he'll get one back, I promise you that."
Harvick, who ended up getting fined $35,000 for the "use of improper language" and for the contact he made with Rudd on pit road, was still fuming about the incident a week later.
"I still feel it was a pretty cheap shot," Harvick told reporters. "The incident started on the racetrack. I haven't heard from Ricky Rudd, and I know the veteran approach to it is to always call on Monday morning. If it wasn't on purpose, I didn't hear the phone ring."
Now, Rudd claimed that he probably would've called Harvick up to talk things over had it not been for his crazy post-race antics. Honestly, all things considered, I think he made the right call.
Kevin Harvick vs. Greg Biffle
Back in the early 2000s, Kevin Harvick wasn't the type to make a threat on the track and not follow through with it. So, when Greg Biffle bumped the back of Harvick's car and sent him into the wall during the spring race at Bristol in 2002, Harvick was determined to talk the talk and walk the walk.
"I've always said Greg Biffle was a good guy, but he's the most impatient thing I've ever seen," Harvick told reporters while he was headed to the care center for a checkup. "I will be waiting for him when he gets out."
And wait he did. Right on top of the pit box. When a NASCAR official asked if he was okay, Harvick said that he was good and that he wouldn't do anything to Biffle once he pulled up. Harvick lied.
Once Biffle's car pulled into pit road, Harvick leapt over both the barrier and Biffle's car to get into Biffle's face and literally grab him by the throat. He was later pulled away by Biffle's jackman and pit crew coach, who Harvick later referred to as "the biggest dude I've ever seen on pit road." As a result of the incident, Harvick was fined $15,000 and placed on a five-month probation.
Kevin Harvick vs. Joe Nemechek
"He can take that and shove it when the sun don't shine."
At least that's what Kevin Harvick meant to say about Joe Nemechek following their infamous All-Star Race qualifying dust-up in 2005, but Harvick's frustration hilariously turned the threat into somewhat of a tongue-twister.
It all started after a chain-reaction crash caused by Tony Stewart that ended up sending Nemechek slamming into Harvick. While Nemechek apologized to Harvick during their post-race confrontation and tried to clarify that he didn't start the whole thing, Harvick was still salty about what Nemechek had said about him several months prior at Daytona. Here's a look at the brief exchange between the two after they were released from the infield care center:
Nemechek: "Hey, I'm sorry about that, dude."
Harvick: "I'm starting to get tired of you wrecking me."
Nemechek: "I didn't start the deal."
Harvick: "You called me out at Daytona."
Nemechek: "Hey, if you wanna go at it..let's have at it, big boy."
Harvick: "But you know what, you need to take your old washed-up a** out of here...that's what you need to do."
As it turns out, Harvick had caused a major wreck during a qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway, and Nemechek said in a later interview that Harvick "just drives stupid" and that "he'll get it back." So, while Nemechek seemed to insist that the All-Star Race incident wasn't intentional, Harvick knew better.
Kevin Harvick vs. Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch have a longstanding feud that we could dedicate an entire article to. Though, when "Happy" called out "Rowdy" after a November 2011 Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, it was over an incident that had nothing to do with the two of them at all. After Busch had wrecked out Ron Hornaday during the Friday night race, Harvick took his opportunity at the post-race press conference to call out Busch for his reckless driving and immaturity.
"He's going to grow up or he's going to have swollen eyes," Busch said.
Just from the calmness of Harvick's delivery, you could tell that he would've been ready to throw down if Busch attempted that stuff on him. Now, in his own eventual interview, Busch didn't hide his own feelings about Harvick, saying "as far as us getting along, I'm not sure that we ever really did" and "I've never gotten along with the guy." Well, they must've eventually worked stuff out, because when Busch signed with Richard Childress Racing in September 2022, Harvick expressed some regret that his employer Stewart-Haas Racing didn't pick Busch up. I'm not sure if that was just a situation of Harvick being masterful at PR, but maybe a little bit of time does actually heal all wounds.
Kevin Harvick vs. Chase Elliott
Other than Kyle Larson's spectacular consistent performances, the Chase Elliott-Kevin Harvick feud was the talk of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. That feud all started at the September night race at Bristol, where some aggressive racing resulted in a heated pit road confrontation with Elliott and Harvick getting right in each other's faces. With boos raining down on him, Harvick sniped at Elliott's "chickens*** move."
It seemed like the feud would carry over into 2022, but not too much came of it. Never say never, though: 2023 is Kevin Harvick's final Cup Series season, and he way reignite the beef as part of his farewell tour.
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