SPEEDWAY, Ind. – “Meet me in Temecula,” NASCAR-style.
Tempers flared during NASCAR Xfinity Series final practice Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when Mike Harmon and Michael Annett collided as Harmon was attempting to come down pit road – sending Annett’s bumper flying through the air.
Annett then confronted Harmon in the garage area, sticking his head in the window of the No. 74 Chevrolet to talk things over before a fiery interview on NBCSN in which he said he was “arguing with an idiot.”
Harmon later saw the video, prompting perhaps the tweet of the year.
I apologized as a team but you took it to a whole new level when a cameras in your face. Come bring your punk ass down to Applebee’s on Crawford Road and call me an idiot to my face @MichaelAnnett
— MHR Racing (@MhrRacing) September 6, 2019
Harmon felt the name-calling was unnecessary and told NASCAR.com on Saturday morning that he apologized profusely and took full responsibility for the incident.
Here’s his take on the contact itself:
“Christopher Bell got under me and I got out of the groove, so it kills your lap, so instead of driving two-and-a-half miles, I pitted and the spotter said ‘that’s clear’ and clear is clear to me, so I committed. Then the 1 (of Annett) came by. It actually kind of scared me; I wasn’t expecting him or anybody to be there. I thought ‘Aw, man.’ I felt terrible about it.”
And the ensuing confrontation in his garage stall:
“He came over hollering with the F word. What the eff this, and all that kind of stuff. I said, ‘Man, look, it’s my fault, OK? I apologize. You think I’d tear your car up and my car up on purpose in practice? That’s crazy.’
“I apologized to the man, told him what happened and then he wanted to take it to another level, acting disrespectful and calling me names and that kind of stuff, and I don’t appreciate that. I’m not going to stand for it. I messed up, and I manned up and said I messed up. It’s really hard to spot here. It’s hard to see. It was a mistake, we’re human.”
Harmon said that he and Annett have “never had any problem before” and that he recognizes the JR Motorsports driver is in faster equipment. He says he moves over for him every week and tries not to get in his way.
But it’s a two-way street.
“The deal is, I respect everybody and I demand respect. I was busy working on my car ’til the garage closed and I saw the video where he called me an idiot and said I didn’t belong out there, I don’t take that. I had to do something. I’m not going to look like a wimp,” Harmon said. “I know we set examples for people and got kids watching and all that, but you can’t roll over, you know? This country wasn’t built that way and racing wasn’t built that way. I’m not going to put up with it. You might be able to outrun me (on the track), but once we get out of the cars it’s man-to-man.”
Annett didn’t make the drive over to Temecula Applebee’s, and it’s probably a good thing for all parties involved that he didn’t.
“I guess (if he did) we’d probably have been taken to jail by the time we got through, because if he comes over running his mouth, I’m going to close it for him,” Harmon said. “I’ve had enough. He’d do me one, but it’d be on, I can tell you that.
“I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to show up. It’s easy to go in front of a camera and run your mouth but do it face-to-face, man-to-man. That’s what this is about. I doubt (we’ll have a face-to-face). If he knows what’s good for him, we won’t.”