Kevin Harvick attempted to punch Kyle Busch following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Darlington after the pair got into an on-track exchange in the closing laps of the event.
Busch and the Richard Childress driver were battling for eighth place following the penultimate restart of Saturday night's event when Harvick apparently swerved at Busch, the pair making contact while running side-by-side out of Turn 2 with just a handful of laps left.
The Joe Gibbs racer passed Harvick at the entry of Turn 3 but then got a tap from his rival, one that unsettled his car, allowing both Harvick and his teammate Clint Bowyer to get a run on him at the exit of Turn 4. As they were exiting the corner while running three-wide they all got squeezed and Bowyer spun and crashed hard against the inside wall along the front-stretch. Meanwhile, Harvick and Busch made further contact, the latter finally nudging the RCR Chevrolet into a spin which sent it against the barrier.
When the race was over Harvick chased Busch's car, the latter trying to avoid further confrontation. Both then drove onto pit road, Harvick stopping his car ahead of his rival's. The RCR driver got out of his stricken Chevy and went straight to his rival's window to swing at Busch, who got his car moving immediately, pushing Harvick's out of the way while sending it against the pit wall.
Harvick then chased Busch inside the garage but never got to him, while crews from the two teams showed their mutual animosity before officials intervened. Later both drivers were summoned to the NASCAR hauler,
"Obviously we were racing hard and doing what we had to do there at the end and things happen," said Harvick following his meeting with NASCAR and Busch. "That's it. What do you do? That's racing, I guess..."
Asked what was discussed behind closed doors, Harvick said: "I don't have anything really to tell you other than 'not much.'"
Harvick had led the race for 47 laps and was among a number of drivers who pitted during the penultimate caution period of the race. Busch also led for 78 laps but an unscheduled stop for a suspected loose wheel dropped him a lap down, which he was able to get back through the second half of the race. In the end Busch finished 11th while Harvick ended up in 17th place.
Busch said he tried to avoid further confrontation but regretted pushing Harvick's car. He also explained that he could not reverse his car once Harvick stopped in front of him as his reverse gear broke, as proved by the team to officials later.
"My choices were limited," said Busch about the post-race incident. "I was either going to get punched in the face and then wait for Harvick to get back in his car for me to go or just drive through his car and push it out of the way so I could get out of there and not try to get hit.
"I just made a judgment call there and it wasn't one of the best choices that I had. ... I hate it that somebody could have got hurt, but I was just trying to get away from it and get back to my hauler and go on with my own business."
NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said both drivers exchanged views in their meeting with officials and warned that the sanctioning body will review the situation to judge if any further action needs to be taken against either driver.
"It was a discussion where they both aired, both voiced their opinions," Tharp said about the meeting. "For them to be able to do that after the race is a good thing. And for us to be able to go back Monday or Tuesday and look at it again is also a good thing."
Harvick and Busch's feud follows an earlier altercation between Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya, ignited by contact between the two during last week's race at Richmond. Both met behind closed doors with NASCAR as well, but their meeting reportedly failed to settle their conflict.