Former Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick voiced his frustrations with NASCAR and its new Cup Series car after his car caught fire Sunday night at Darlington.
Harvick was forced to park his car and get out of it while on track after it went up in flames during the final stage of the race won by Erik Jones. Harvick said that fire started coming through his dash two laps before he parked it and the flames kept getting worse.
Harvick called the parts on the car “crappy-ass” in his interview with NBC after exiting the car. He finished 33rd in the playoff opener.
“I’m sure it’s just crappy parts on the race car like we’ve seen so many times. They haven’t fixed anything. It’s kind of like the safety stuff. We just let it keep going and keep going. The car started burning and as it burned the flames started coming through the dash. I ran a couple laps and then as the flame got bigger it started burning stuff up and I think right there you see all the brake fluid that was probably coming out the brakes and part of the brake line, but the fire was coming through the dash. What a disaster for no reason. We didn’t touch the wall. We didn’t touch a car and here we are in the pits with a burned up car and we can’t finish the race during the playoffs because of crappy-ass parts.”
Kevin Harvick is not a fan of the next gen car 😂 pic.twitter.com/nkz9ISFMpC
— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) September 5, 2022
The 2022 season is the first for NASCAR’s new car that’s primarily built with single-source parts. The changes were made for teams to lower costs instead of building their own specific parts for cars and fires have been a concern over the course of the season. At least four cars have caught fire in odd ways through the first 27 races of the season.
The fires haven’t been the only safety issues in 2022 either as Harvick referenced in his comments after the fire. Kurt Busch has been sidelined since July with a concussion after his car backed into the wall in a seemingly innocuous qualifying crash at Pocono. And drivers like Denny Hamlin talked about how hard the hits at Daytona felt a week ago in the multiple crashes that occurred during that rain-delayed regular-season finale. Hamlin even skipped Saturday’s Xfinity Series race because of soreness from his Daytona crash.
The new car has provided mostly competitive racing throughout the season as 17 drivers have scored wins over the first 27 races. But safety is more important than racing parity or quality and it’s clear that NASCAR has some work to do in the safety department throughout the final nine races of the season and ahead of 2023 to make drivers feel safer in the cockpit from both crash impacts and fires. Hopefully comments by Harvick and other influential drivers about those safety issues spur the innovation that's needed.