Kevin Harvick: Denny Hamlin dared NASCAR to punish him and got away scot-free


Kevin Harvick watched Denny Hamlin's controversial restart live from the booth during FOX's coverage of last weekend's Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.

While he didn't think Hamlin's jump was particularly obvious at the time in the restart, his opinion has changed a bit. During the latest episode of Harvick's Happy HourThe former NASCAR champion believes Hamlin dared NASCAR to penalize him and they decided against it, resulting in a win for the No. 11 car.

“When we first showed the replay at the end of the race, everything was happening and it was hard to tell who was going where. We showed the replay and I said, 'It definitely looked like he rolled before the finish line.' Well, if you come back today, he definitely went way before the line and took off,” Harvick explained. “So I think from a driver perspective and everything you do, you know at the end of the race that they're not going to do it, it has to be pretty obvious for them to call that restart violation.”

“As a driver, you know that you want to start as early as possible to gain an advantage over the outsider. You don't want to wait in the box. You want to be at the very beginning of the box so you can take off. Denny, you know, he left early. I got away with it. Won the race.”

Of course, there are two sides to every coin, and it was Martin Truex Jr. who was hit by Hamlin's decision on the restart. Harvick believes that while Truex Jr. was somewhat rattled, the No. 19 should have been ready for the restart.

“I think on the other hand Martin lost the race,” Harvick added. “He freaked out after the race. So he had a bad pit stop. His pit stop was a second slower than Denny Hamlin's and lost the lead. I lost control of the race. And then Denny killed him on the last launch.

“Whether he lines up at the line or in front of it, you have to be ready and know that you can go, he will go at some point. You have to shoot with him, and he obviously wasn’t ready to go when Denny left a little early.”

Regardless, Denny Hamlin's win at Richmond this week caused plenty of controversy, but Kevin Harvick and the rest of the NASCAR world will wait to see what impact it has going forward.