“You Are Sacrificial Lambs”-Kevin Harvick’s Chicago Qualifying Disaster Divides NASCAR Fandom Over Track vs Inexperience Debate

Published 07/02/2023, 6:37 AM EDT

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The V-8 engines finally made it to the streets of Chicago. After years of contemplation and hype, NASCAR fans are set to witness the set of finest drivers roaring past through Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain. With an expected footfall of 100,000, NASCAR is confident that the inaugural street race is bound to be a successful venture. 

But NASCAR was perhaps too early to predict the outcome of the race as it seems the drivers are already walking on eggshells on the experimental tracks of street tracks. The worst nightmares are taking shape on the racetrack and were evident in both the Xfinity Series on Saturday as well as the practice and the qualifying session of the Cup Series. And seemingly Kevin Harvick got to witness the worst end of it during the qualifying session.

Kevin Harvick falls short of his experience on the tracks of Chicago during qualifying


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There is no denying the fact that Stewart-Haas Racing is in a precarious position in the ongoing session. Struggling with their OEM manufacturers, Ford, none of the drivers have made a podium finish so far in the season. However, it was their star driver, Kevin Harvick, who was still the ray of hope in the bleak camp of Stewart-Haas Racing camp. Even without a podium finish, the veteran driver was a consistent performer delivering top 5 and top 10 finishes every other weekend.

But it seems that achievement was fleeting and cut short on Saturday’s qualifying in Chicago. The No.4 Ford Mustang driver in a video by NBC had predicted the possible points where the drivers could crash, and it seems those came true for the driver himself on Saturday. The 2014 Cup Series champion smacked the inside wall head-on in Turn 1 while he was trying to get a better lap at qualifying. 

After Harvick hit the concrete, Dale Earnhardt Jr, the NBC broadcaster for the race was heard saying in the background, “Think about this though guys, how many race tracks do we go to where there is an inside wall in every apex? I mean this is not something that our guys in the Cup Series or in NASCAR even have to deal with this and this is unique to Street courses and other road courses as well.”

But rarely do you have a wall in the inside and guys getting a little too aggressive with it trying to make up time because a couple of inches tied to that wall it’s worth a lot of time being able to throttle up get out of the corner quicker,” Junior added.

Harvick’s team, Stewart-Haas Racing, posted a clip of the mangled car being towed away from the track, with the word, “Pain.”


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Fans share their divided opinions after the horrific wreck faced by Harvick


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Nevertheless, the driver was safe and was able to exit the car on his own accord. After a disappointing finish, the driver exclaimed, “We were going to be back there anyway.”

However, the wreck seems to ignite the debate about the inexperienced driver and the alien track, which could have played a part in the horrific impact that most of the drivers experienced, including Harvick, during the qualifying. Fans took to social media to lash out their displeasure.

While many blamed the track for the track and wrote, “Garbage idea to do this ….wake up drivers  …you are sacrificial lambs…..seems EVERYONE IS BOUGHT OFF..!”

“This track sucks nascar is absolutely stupid everyone crashing into walls.”

“This track will kill someone.”


However, many blamed Harvick for not being able to gauge the track. They commented, “Nascar’s version of Baku is awesome. I am stupid -Kevin Harvick.”


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“Not sure if Harvick was trying to be like Chase, or Chase was preemptively trying to be like Harvick.”

“3rd driver in cup so far to hit the wall on the apex, the inexperience is showing hard today. Would not surprise me at all if one of them did it tomorrow.”


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With major concerns that lie ahead of the main race, it is to be seen how these drivers put their acquired knowledge put to use during the race. While Denny Hamlin sits at the pole position, the debut circuit is surely going to put the drivers to the test and how they emerge victorious in the alien conditions.


Written by:

Ayantika Maitra


One take at a time

Ayantika Maitra is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. It was initially Formula 1 that made her fall in love with the world of motorsports. But quickly, the raw and unfiltered nature of NASCAR is what led her to build an affinity for the Stock Car Racing Series.
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Edited by:

Varunkumaar Chelladurai