Earnhardt calls Harvick's comments 'hurtful'

Kelley Earnhardt Rick Hendrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2007

Kelley Earnhardt Rick Hendrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2007

It was a day after Earnhardt said Harvick's comments Tuesday on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show were "hurtful", but that he still respected Harvick.

"The growth in [NASCAR] has not reached the levels that it should have because our most popular driver has not been our most successful driver", Harvick said. Despite this, he has earned NASCAR's Most Popular Driver award for 14 straight years, including last season when he missed half the year due to injury.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light Ford, stands in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 11, 2017 in Brooklyn, Michigan.

"I've got a unique type of respect for Harvick that's different from most of the drivers because of his history and more recently with what he's done with JR Motorsports - he brought an attitude and a commitment and a change in performance", Earnhardt said.

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"I have an incredible amount of respect for him (Harvick)", said Earnhardt, 42, at the unveiling of the 2018 NASCAR Chevy Camaro XL1 Cup auto in the Motor City.

"I think the legacy started long before him", said Bowyer of Junior.

While plenty of NASCAR fans in JR Nation want Kevin Harvick to apologize to Dale Earnhardt Jr. for blaming him for "stunting" the growth of NASCAR, that's not what Junior wants. "In my opinion Jimmie Johnson should be our most popular guy because he's won seven championships".

In replying to Harvick in Detroit on Thursday, Earnhardt, who runs the No. 88 Chevrolet, took the high road.

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Dale Jr. sits 23rd in points and will need a win in the next four races to earn a spot in the playoffs for the right to battle for the series championship during the final 10 races. "I found some of those comments hurtful".

"I'm super-proud of what I've been able to accomplish, and I hope that I brought something to the table and left a good impact", Earnhardt added. "We've enjoyed a lot of wins together, so I certainly would like to clear it up but just probably between ourselves".

Harvick replaced Earnhardt's father after his death in the 2001 Daytona 500, so he has a natural connection to Earnhardt Jr., in addition to driving for JR Motorsports from 2014-2016 in the Xfinity Series. But I still respect him as a champion and an ambassador for the sport, and that's just the way it is, I guess.

Harvick previously drove for the Xfinity Series team Earnhardt co-owns, JR Motorsports, and Earnhardt said Harvick deserves a lot of credit for lifting the organization to greater heights.

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"I hated working for a living". "Selfishly, I'm a auto salesman, and I've got a lot of them in the lot". "Looks incredible, and I know it's going to perform very well".

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