Kevin Harvick and Chad Knaus Disagree on What Drivers Might Throw Punches Before Start of 2023 Playoffs as Pressure Intensifies

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Kevin Harvick waves.

A couple of years ago, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott stood toe to toe on pit road after an exciting Bristol night race in which each driver felt aggrieved by the other. The 2014 Cup Series champ with his helmet on versus the helmet-less 2020 champ. It was a heated conversation that later carried over into the garage. But it was just words. There were no punches thrown. 

This week, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver, in his 23rd and final year in the Cup Series, made a guest appearance on NASCAR Race Hub along with Chad Knaus. The two discussed a variety of topics and participated in a game show segment, where they answered questions, including providing a percentage for the chance of punches being thrown at some point before the start of the playoffs. 

Harvick, unsurprisingly, went low. Knaus did not. And then gave some interesting examples. 

Kevin Harvick not a fan of punching someone in the mouth

When Kevin Harvick moves up to the Fox broadcast booth next year, his most loyal followers will remember him for all of the good times and, more specifically, the victories. The general NASCAR fan will recall those wins and the big headlines he produced for his involvement in multiple conflicts, including channeling his inner spider monkey on Greg Biffle, inciting a skirmish between Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon, and the Chase Elliott incident in 2021. Merry Offseason. 

In all of those instances, Harvick initiated contact. However, in each situation, he never threw a punch. There’s a pattern of behavior. 

Earlier this year, during the conversation on restoring respect among drivers, he provided his reasoning for not getting physical in confrontations when asked by Fox’s Bob Pockrass why more drivers aren’t willing to resolve their differences through fighting.

“How many guys have you really seen get popped in the face?” Harvick asked the reporter. 

“I thought in the 90s,” Pockrass started, before Harvick intervened.

“We aren’t in the 90s. How many guys have you really seen get popped in the face in the last 10 years?” the driver questioned.

“I’d say two or three,” Pockrass answered. 

“At the most,” Harvick said. “So that’s really not — is that really realistic in today’s society to walk over and punch a guy in the mouth? Is that real?”

Harvick doesn’t believe punches will be thrown before playoffs start

This week Harvick joined Chad Knaus as guests on NASCAR Race Hub, where they talked about the developing playoff picture, and participated in a game-show-like segment called “What Are the Chances?” 

One of the questions was: “What are the chances we see punches thrown before the start of the 2023 playoffs?”

With Harvick’s past actions in conflict and his feelings about punching another driver established, his answer wasn’t surprising.

“I think the playoff guys, they don’t want anything to do with having any trouble before they get in the playoffs and that’s a lot of guys,” he said. “I think you got some guys that are going to throw some Hail Marys and go into the playoffs swinging for the fences.”

“And you wouldn’t do it just for fun in your last season?” Knaus questioned. 

“No. Gosh, I don’t like getting hit, Chad,” the driver admitted. “There’s just nothing fun about getting punched in the face. I watched that video. That makes my hand hurt. I watched that video and think, man, how long would it take me to recover from getting punched like that?”

Knaus expects fisticuffs

Knaus joking with Harvick about getting in one final shot in his final year was humorous, but it also aligned with his position and what he had said moments before the Stewart-Haas Racing driver answered the question. The Hendrick Motorsports executive envisions a high likelihood of punches happening at some point in the next six weeks. 

“I’m saying 75%. But the thing is, I’m sitting here looking at the video clips, these guys are evenly matched in height and stature,” Knaus said, referring to the video that showed Ross Chastain delivering a shot to Noah Gragson earlier this year. “It’s going to be hard to pair that up but I still think you’re going to have a lot of tempers flying. I think you’re going to have a lot real anxiety starting to bubble up for a lot of different reasons — people looking for rides, people trying to preserve rides, and make the playoffs. I think we got a good shot to see some action.” 

Knaus interestingly brought up the anxiety of making the playoffs. One of the main storylines of late has been Chase Elliott’s precarious position in making it into the postseason, which everyone universally agrees has changed to a must-win situation.

Could Elliott, who’s had a challenging season, to say the least, missing multiple races due to a snowboarding accident and suspension, potentially be one to let his hands fly? Or, has he already had enough from his first visit to the principal’s office? 

Someone else?

If Knaus is right, expect some post-race excitement in the coming weeks. Just don’t expect Harvick to be involved.

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