While plenty of NASCAR fans in JR Nation want Kevin Harvick to apologize to Dale Earnhardt Jr. for blaming him for “stunting” the growth of NASCAR, that’s not what Junior wants.
Friday at Michigan International Speedway, both drivers commented on the situation, which was apparently sparked when Earnhardt said last weekend at Watkins Glen International that it’s a good thing younger drivers are accepting smaller contracts because NASCAR money isn’t flowing like it used to.
During his press conference Friday, Earnhardt said:
“I’d appreciate a conversation – if we could have a conversation about it. I know Kevin and have known him for a long time, and I feel like it’d be great to sit down and just discuss what he said, what he meant, and we can even talk about my conversation from The Glen that he didn’t like and just sort of find some common ground.”
Earlier this week, Junior clarified what he said last weekend and explained that some teams are successfully holding onto their sponsors. But he was talking about the changing landscape of the sport overall in light of drivers like Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth not having rides for 2018.
While complimenting still Harvick on Thursday for helping his XFINITY Series team, JR Motorsports, when he drove for it between 2014 and 2016, Earnhardt said Harvick’s comments about stunting NASCAR were “hurtful.”
Harvick told ESPN on Friday that he wasn’t personally attacking Earnhardt.
More from Junior’s press conference Friday:
“(A conversation) would be great because, like I said, I think a lot of the guy, and there’s no denying what he did for our company over those few years. We were in a good place, but he put us to another level. When he came in there, his understanding of how to run a team – he changed how everyone in the company thought, all the guys downstairs as far as how to get cars better.
“So he brought a really great mentality to the company that’s still there today. We’ve enjoyed a lot of wins together, so I certainly would like to clear it up but just probably between ourselves.”
Harvick originally blamed Earnhardt for NASCAR’s lack of growth because he’s been the most popular driver for 14 consecutive years but is far from the most successful. Harvick said that negatively impacted the sport, adding he thinks Earnhardt’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson should be the most popular driver as the most successful active driver on the track.
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