Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick says he was at fault for the Fontana crash with Kyle Larson that prevented him competing for a fourth consecutive NASCAR Cup series win.
Harvick was running in the outside lane on lap 37 of 200 before he ran wheel-to-wheel with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Larson, with contact subsequently pitching the SHR driver into the wall.
The one-time Cup champion had started the race in 10th and worked his way into the lead pack but ended up down in 35th and nine laps down after a lengthy stop for repairs.
Larson meanwhile ran off strategy after the contact to work his way back up to second after a late pass on Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, but was unable to challenge race winner Martin Truex Jr.
Harvick said he was to blame for the coming together.
“I went down to side draft and he [Larson] was coming up and we touched, and it just knocked the thing to the right and spun out,” he said.
“I don’t know that it’s his fault. I think that’s my fault for coming down right there and trying to side draft and then as we touch it just came back up the race track.
“I was just trying to get a little too much right there. I knew the stage was coming in.
“I’ve just got to thank all of my guys. They did a great job on our Ford and it was just my fault back there.”
When asked if four consecutive wins were out of reach in the race, Harvick said: “No, it’s not too much to ask.
“That was just a dumb mistake on my part, so it wasn’t too much to ask. The race car was there, it was just a mistake.”
Larson said that Harvick’s move was not surprising and that the SHR man was quicker than him in the early stages.
“It’s so hard to tell early in the race, but just the little bit I was around Kevin, I felt like he still had the best car,” he said.
“I wasn’t surprised that we were racing that hard, or he was racing me as hard as he was to try to hold me off.
“He had pitted a lap before me, so I had a lap fresher tyres than him.
“I think he knew he was better than I was overall, so he was just trying to hold me off, race me hard to maybe burn my stuff up, then he could stay in front of me.
“I was actually having a lot of fun racing like that because this place is really cool, you can just kind of go wherever.”