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Harvick criticism illustrates problem of unqualified drivers

By admin | July 16, 2012

By Richard Allen


Kevin Harvick believes he lost Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway because the lapped car of Amber Cope unnecessarily held him up and allowed Brad Keselowski to get by for the lead in the late stages of the event. This was not the first time, nor will it be the last time, that a lapped car played a role in a race’s outcome.

The problem, as I see it, is that there are people on the race track who have not really earned the right to be there. This is not just true of NASCAR, but can be seen across the board in many forms of racing.

Harvick seems to share that opinion. “It’s not one of ‘those deals,’” Harvick said in an ESPN interview after Saturday’s race. “It’s somebody who shouldn’t be on the racetrack, who has no clue what they’re doing in the race car.

“She wants to be Danica Patrick, but she can’t hold her helmet,” the former Nationwide Series champion added. “She doesn’t know whether she’s going high or low. It looked like she went up, so I committed to the bottom and she came down.”

Rather than starting out on local tracks and working their way up through the ranks, it seems as if there are getting to be more and more drivers who advance to the higher ranks because of a gimmick that attracts attention or a relative who fronts the money for the ride.

Before going any further, I want to point out that the grandsons of Richard Childress, Austin and Ty Dillon, are not included in this conversation. They have been brought up the right way by starting out in go-karts, then to dirt cars, then ARCA and eventually NASCAR.

Also, even though she is incredibly over-hyped in my opinion, Danica Patrick is not to be included either. She began racing go-karts, midgets and other lower forms of race cars before she moved to more high powered machines. She may not have the results to deserve the amount of attention she gets, but Danica has a credible racing résumé.

The Cope twins, Amber and Angela, have achieved success in karting and some other types of lesser cars, but their experience in top level racing would not seem to warrant a ride in the Nationwide Series just yet. An internet search of their names reveals a number of modeling photos, some website references based on sex appeal and the fact that they are the nieces of former Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope.

On Saturday, Amber Cope was well off the pace of other cars on the track and was, at the time of her encounter with Harvick, more than 30 laps behind.

But this piece is not written specifically about the Copes. One of them just happens to be at the center of this controversy. It is about any driver who has few credentials but races in one of NASCAR’s top three divisions. Just because a person offers some sort of novelty or has a family member willing to finance a ride should not be enough of a qualification to race at such a high level.

In a time in which money is the deciding factor in determining who gets a ride in a race car, sponsors will often choose marketability over ability. That’s a risky gamble in a sport with such dangerous potential. Perhaps it’s time for NASCAR to institute a more stringent induction system for drivers coming into the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series. Maybe spending multiple days with a veteran driver such a David Green or Brett Bodine to judge the potential rookie’s competence would be in order.

Or after Saturday, Kevin Harvick might even want to offer his services for driver training and judgment.

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21 Responses to “Harvick criticism illustrates problem of unqualified drivers”

  1. Aaron Peach Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    This may show my own naivete when it comes to understanding the different top level series of NASCAR, but what frustrates me when watching the Nationwide or Truck Series races is seeing Cup drivers complain when something goes wrong for them.
    This isn’t a perfect analogy, but to me it would be like an NFL quarterback going and playing a college game and getting angry at a receiver for dropping a ball.
    I can’t speak for Amber Cope’s talents and abilities as a driver, but her treatment by Harvick seems unfair and frankly unnecessary. What are the lower levels of the sport for if we just watch the Cup drivers dominate week after week (eg: Harvick in the CWTS, or Keselowski, the Busch bros or Logano in the N-Wide series?) If these are going to drive at a lower level, they should expect to race with lower level drivers.

  2. k Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 1:22 am

    I feel whether she is qualified or not the point is Kevin Harvick’s very unprofessional scathing attack on her in front of the world to see live on Tv…If we were allowed to say what we really feel at any given time, the world would be in a pretty bad place, dare I say it is with the amount of people who attacked her, these drivers have a responsiblity to watch how they say things, rabid fans hang on every word and take him to his word..the Cope girl is now the victim of stupid fandom because of Kevin’s words…He has always lack maturity in this department as his wife has too, hopefully he will look in the mirror and not want his newborn acting the same way when frustrated in a situation…

  3. Andy Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 4:30 am

    Neither of them should have been racing Saturday. Cope should have been running in a lower series until she had her act together. Harvick shouldn’t be playing AAA ball when he’s major league, it’s a learning series.

    Ultimate fault goes to Harvick. He has the most experience and the better car. he should anticipated the problem and dealt with it. He’s not better than the Busches when it comes to bullying and whining.

  4. Steven Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 7:24 am

    The Copes wouldn’t be racing if there were more competitive cars. I think there are only about 15 well funded cars in Nationwide. And I have to laugh when Danica is promoted as a “Top Ten Driver”.

  5. Tony Geinzer Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 7:44 am

    I find that honestly, I am out to be a crystal clear voice when it comes to this issue, Rich, I hope your NASCAR Media and Stock Car Media Peers try to at least sell more K and N, ARCA, ASA or Modified Tour Experience in Seasons, not just races. I hope Michael McDowell, Kelly Bires, Darrell Wallace and Ryan Truex land Full Money Seats.

  6. Sue Rarick Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 8:23 am

    I will grant that Amber Cope was in a little over her head. But most of that 30 laps down was because the car had problems even before the green flag and she entered the race well down in laps to begin with. That said she continued to lose laps and evidently was leaving room for the lead drivers to pass for most of the race because the only crybaby I’ve read about was Harvick, and that was only about the end of the race. He’d already passed her a few times during the race.

    I just wonder how much Kyle or Kurt would have been fined and how much of a firestorm there would have been from the press if they had refered to her as an “IT”. Or his comment that the only pole she’d ever see would include her wearing boots (Stripper pole?).

    Once again Harvick shows himself off to be a classless lout and bully. Once again the press gives him a free pass too.

  7. Colin W. Baird Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Amber Cope is a Nationwide Series driver, and it is a Nationwide Series race. She belongs on the track. Kevin Harvick is a Sprint Cup Series driver, and it IS NOT a Sprint Cup Series race. He DOES NOT belong on the track. It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure that one out.

  8. Robert Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Kevin’s criticisms should be directed toward NASCAR.

    Not in the form of a personal attack towards a driver NASCAR has deemed capable of being on the track.

  9. Steve Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Harvick’s criticism illustrates the problems of Harvick. What a jacka**.

  10. Bill B Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I agree with every point you made Rich however it’s hard to feel sorry for any established Cup driver having an issue like this when they run in a lower series.
    Boo hoo. Too bad. If you don’t want to put up with rookie mistakes stay in the big leagues. My biggest regret was that there was another full time Cup driver in 2nd that inherited the lead.

  11. SpikeGoesNuts Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Quote: Maybe spending multiple days with a veteran driver such a David Green or Brett Bodine to judge the potential rookie’s competence would be in order.

    Past backmarkers teaching future backmarkers. Great idea Richard.

    If the girl was 30 laps down, Harvick must have passed her a few times, He had no clue til she held him up? If you don’t like the racers in Nationwide why are you running the race? Need a little extra dough for diapers?

  12. Russ Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Isn’t it funny how the Harvick’s of the world are perfectly happy to reap the benefits of the system - a system made up of megateams with enormous amounts of money and a relatively few who can pay for the opportunity to race regardless of qualifications - a system that no longer has teams building for the future.
    And then he complains when it goes wrong for him. Interesting.

  13. Joe Maiolo Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I’ve been reading many comments (not on this site) that Kevin Harvick should stay out of the Nationwide Series races because he’s a Sprint Cup driver and that the Nationwide Series is a place for drivers like the Cope’s to learn as they race. That is absolutely absurd!!! The Nationwide Series, Camping World Truck Series, and even the Whelan Modified Series are all Big League Series where dedicated, professional drivers race. The Cope’s and those like them should leave these professional men and women alone before they kill someone. The Cope’s and all of the other start and parker’s should either stay home or race in local enduros or demolition derbys where they belong. What ever happened to “working your way through the ranks” and “paying your dues?

  14. MJ Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Harvick should have just punted her out of the way and dealt with the fallout from that. He’d have still won, although he’d be accused of bullying her. I’m not a huge fan of cup guys in NW, but if that had been Stenhouse and he punted her, they’d say he too was bullying her. If you cant’ take the heat, go down to a lower series. Cope girls are a novelty at best, not racers, just using it to promote themselves. Not doing NW or Nascar any good.

  15. Steve Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    If Kevin has a problem racing on the same track as inexperienced drivers than he shouldn’t be racing in a minor league series with inexperienced drivers to begin with. Its a pretty simple concept.

  16. Mike H Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Avery short comment. Brad K was able to pass Cope AND Harvick! Guess Brad didn’t belong there either??

  17. Greg Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Come on people , she was 30 LAPS DOWN why not PARK it .

    If you need lap time go rent a track for a day and drive around in circles.

    The NW series is not the local street stock class , they need to have a proven ability to compete as it is not the MINOR leagues.

  18. Driver X Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    One’s character shows when things do not go well or maybe even bad…. It is easy to act like a good sport when things are good. There was a better way to handle it, I thought Kevin had grown past this stuff. Seems not so much… He has so much, a great wife and family, respect from his peers and a fantastic paying job. Life is good for Kevin, that is why he could’ve handled it a bit better…..

  19. Brian Says:
    July 18th, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Despite being 33 laps down, Amber Cope finished 26th. Out of 43 cars. I think that argues against the idea that Nationwide is a top-level, professional series.

    As soon at least 75% of the entries finish the race, I’ll reconsider my opinion. Until then, I don’t have a problem with the Cope twins being on the track.

  20. Russ Says:
    July 18th, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Driver x has a great point. But I wonder just how much respect he really has? Professional courtesy, yes - respect maybe not so much.

  21. midasmicah Says:
    July 22nd, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    The cup drivers can’t compete for truck or nothingwide series championships, but they can sure come down and not only dominate, but also take the top money. And yea, if Kurt or kyle bad mouthed Cope the way Harvick did, there would be more fines and chastising for them. HH (that’s Harvick the Hypocrite) needs to shut up and race in the series he belongs in.