NASCAR Photographer Explains Importance of Capturing the Kevin Harvick-Kyle Busch Incident at Martinsville

Published 01/03/2021, 8:45 AM EST
TALLADEGA, AL – OCTOBER 25: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

One of the most striking moments of the 2020 NASCAR season took place between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. The two drivers tangled in the final race of the playoffs at Martinsville as Harvick attempted one final push in his bid to make the ‘Championship 4’ race.


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One of two major stories emerging from that race was this moment between Busch and Harvick. Another one was the fact that Chase Elliott won a must-win race to get into the ‘Championship 4’ race and later went on to win the title.

The tangle between Busch and Harvick caught many headlines, given that it knocked out Harvick from contention, who was the title favorite after winning nine races through the season.


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The image of two of NASCAR’s most prolific drivers caught up in that moment and around smoke coming out from their cars after the crash attracted a lot of attention and headlines as well.


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NASCAR caught up with the photographer who captured that moment, which will be remembered for a long time. Jared C. Tilton shuffled between capturing Elliott’s winning moment, and this incident between Harvick and Busch which was equally important on the night.

Reliving the Kyle Busch-Kevin Harvick crash at Martinsville

Tilton captured the emotions of Elliott winning and soon turned to see the crash between Harvick and Busch. He did his best to capture the picture, not knowing just how important it would eventually turn out to be. Busch’s presence added more meaning to that click, admitted Tilton.

“At the moment, I didn’t think to myself that it would be a very important image like it was. I knew I needed to tell the story of Kevin and not finishing the race where he needed to be, but I didn’t really realize the impact of the moment of Kyle being in that photo also,” Tilton expressed.

BROOKLYN, MI – JUNE 10: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Ford, speaks with Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Red White & Blue Toyota, during a weather delay prior to the start of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 10, 2018 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Busch, also had a very unusual season, not winning a single race until very late in the season. He was also knocked out of contention in the Round of 12 in the playoffs.

Seeing two of the sport’s biggest stars in a similar situation where they would not even fight for the title added more importance to the image.

What made the moment so important?

“It was going to be a year where these two massive names in our sport weren’t going to be battling for the championship.

And the fact that I was able to kind of get those two big names in one photograph as the end, kind of telling the story of both of their seasons. That made that important to me,” Tilton added further.

He admitted that the crash, in itself, was quite normal. However, the fact that it represented a much bigger story in the larger scheme of things made it to defining at the end.


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MIAMI, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 14: (L-R) Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light Ford, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota speaks with members of the media during NASCAR 2019 Championship 4 Media Day at the Edition Hotel on November 14, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Both Busch and Harvick had quite contrasting seasons. While Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Harvick won so much all year, Busch had to work so hard for just one win. Eventually, both drivers found themselves in a similar place as the season ended.

With a new season, they will have another opportunity to put behind the disappointment of 2020 and work towards another title victory.


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Aayush Majumdar

995 articles

Aayush Majumdar is a NASCAR content strategist, a Tennis Writer, and a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. He is well-tenured as a tennis and NASCAR writer, with over 900 articles across both sports. After pursuing a Post Graduate program in Sports Management, Aayush explored various roles in Sports Media, including a Sports Reporting role at a leading English daily.