Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman have had their share of controversy at MIS Busch, Harvick can "Have at it" again, but not until MIS


By Jeff Gluck

Our "Countdown to Michigan" series will touch on several different angles and stories about Michigan International Speedway ahead of the track's June 19 Sprint Cup Series race. And in full disclosure, we planned out which ones to write about long ago.

But suddenly, another Michigan-related storyline suddenly popped up when Kevin Harvick tried to pop Kyle Busch at Darlington.

The drivers' resulting probation lasts for all NASCAR races through June 15. So what's the first race where Harvick and Busch will be able to "Have at it" again without fear of getting a more severe penalty?

Yep, you guessed it: Michigan.

While it's easy to dismiss NASCAR probation as a light penalty, Harvick said NASCAR made it clear that the drivers can't engage in any funny business until Michigan – unless they want to empty their wallets or cost themselves points.

"(Probation) definitely affects how you race for the next four weeks," Harvick said at Dover. "We got the ultimatum yesterday – an explanation of how probation works and how NASCAR expected us to race on the racetrack was put to us very clearly yesterday. How the next four weeks are expected to go was dictated to us yesterday very clearly in the NASCAR trailer."

So now, our "Countdown to Michigan" is also a "Countdown to No More Probation." When the probation tag comes off, perhaps the gloves will, too.

It's kind of appropriate, if you think about it. Over the years, Michigan has had its fair share of driver conflicts and disagreements.
The most obvious one that comes to mind is the infamous 2003 Kurt Busch/Jimmy Spencer incident in the Michigan garage. For those who may not recall, the two hard racers were involved in an ongoing feud that reached its pinnacle when Spencer punched Busch in the face while the brash young driver sat in his car following the race.

But there have been more recent incidents as well. Remember when Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun Carl Edwards in a 2006 Nationwide race at Michigan? Edwards then rammed Earnhardt Jr.'s car after the latter driver won the race – nearly taking Earnhardt Jr.'s hand off – and went to Victory Lane to confront the sport's most popular driver. It was probably the only time in Earnhardt Jr.'s career where he heard boos after winning.

Check out the video to refresh your memory:

Another Michigan moment that seems mostly forgotten – but still juicy nonetheless – was the near-fight between Ron Hornaday and Kyle Busch after the 2008 Truck Series race there.

Busch wrecked Hornaday on the final lap – it seemed intentional in Hornaday's mind – which drew the ire of both Hornaday and team owner Kevin Harvick (Hmm...Harvick and Busch. Sound familiar?).

Check out the end of this clip when Hornaday and Busch have to be separated from one another.

One of my favorite Michigan controversies involved Busch again – in the 2009 Nationwide race with Brian Vickers. In that race, Vickers tried to run Busch to the bottom of the track as the two drivers came off Turn 4, failing to see the third-place car of Brad Keselowski charging hard on the outside.

Keselowski ended up winning the race, and Busch was livid with Vickers. If you've ever heard the term "Kyle Busch Show," the post-race interview in the clip from Vickers below is where those words rose to prominence.

And of course, the 2010 season wasn't without controversy at Michigan, either. During the August race there last year, Joey Logano simply got loose and lost control of his car, and bobbled up the track – taking out Ryan Newman in the process.

After the race, Logano and Newman had an animated discussion in the garage that ended with Newman giving the younger driver a little push and saying, "Don't touch me."

Why do drivers seem to get so upset with one another at Michigan? The 2-mile track is a far cry from the smaller confines of a short track, so you wouldn't necessarily think Michigan would have so many incidents of flared tempers.

But clearly, MIS seems to have at least one instance of hurt feelings every year. One theory is the track is so wide and there are so many lanes that drivers can go all out and drive aggressively – sometimes running into one another in the process.

Either way, it's certainly made for some memorable moments over the years. Will Harvick and Busch add to the list this season?

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