Edwards: Harvick just a 'bad person'

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Carl Edwards insists his issues with Brad Keselowski go no deeper than incidents that have happened on the track and that they will address them during a meeting Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Edwards' issues with Kevin Harvick apparently go much deeper.

"I have absolutely no respect for Kevin Harvick," he said before Friday's first practice at Bristol Motor Speedway. "I think he's a bad person. That's my opinion. I've told him. We've had our deal before and his actions through that interaction were so devious and underhanded and cowardly that, it's like, I just have no respect for him.

"When people like that question me, it makes me feel better because if those people were lined up patting me on the back I'd be on the wrong side of what's right and wrong. And I truly believe that."

Edwards and Harvick got into a physical confrontation in 2008 at Charlotte Motor Speedway that ended with one of Harvick's friends dragging Edwards away in a headlock.

Harvick, upset because of an incident that happened a week earlier at Talladega Superspeedway, accused Edwards of being a "pansy" for racing near the back of the pack all day and then causing a major wreck.

Edwards reflected on that moment after almost two weeks of listening to comments about his incident with Keselowski at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford intentionally took Keselowski out with less than three laps remaining in retaliation for an earlier wreck that put Edwards 156 laps down.

Keselowski and Edwards are scheduled to meet on Saturday to speak for the first time since the wreck, which was magnified when Keselowski's car went airborne, flipped upside down and landed on its roof.

Keselowski said last week he believed Edwards' issue with him went beyond what happened on the track.

"It's no deeper than that," Edwards insisted. "It's only between him and I and what happens on the track."

That's when Edwards lit into Harvick, who after their incident said, "Not a big fan. I think he's a fake."

On Friday, Harvick said: "As far as the 'fake' comment, you can't be the nice guy, you can't be the bad guy and you can't be the bully. So, I mean, that's just how I feel about that."

Edwards said he's not trying to be the good or the bad guy.

"All those people that say whatever they say, know that if I have an issue with them I go speak to them," he said. "I don't go talk behind their back like little girls. That's what a lot of them do. I learned that wasn't cool in about the fifth grade.

"It's really simple. I treat everyone the best way I can possibly treat them. That's the way I was raised, but I stand up for myself. That's simple. If somebody doesn't respect that, then that's their problem. Doesn't really matter."

This is not the first time Edwards has been on the defensive for his actions. In 2007, he placed his hands on the chest of teammate Matt Kenseth and aggressively guided him a few feet backward after an incident at Martinsville Speedway.

Edwards ultimately cocked his right arm as though he were going to punch Kenseth and made a fake jab before walking away.

The incident with Harvick got much more heated, but Edwards said he does not have issues with anger, as some have insinuated.

"People are going to say what they do," he said. "That's all they can say about me because it's hard for them to accept that I am a decent guy. If you go ask all the people who know me, all the people around me, go ask them and they'll tell you.

"Go take those people who are talking and ask the people around them what kind of person they are, and they'll tell you. That's just the way it is.''

Team owner Jack Roush does not condone Edwards wrecking Keselowski at Atlanta, "but I do understand it."

"If my drivers had wrecked somebody three times I would have had issue with that in my camp," Roush said.

He agreed with NASCAR's decision not to suspend Edwards, who was placed on a three-race probation.

"NASCAR had made the point that they wanted the drivers to do things on the racetrack to generate more excitement and to be less intimidated by NASCAR's restrictions," Roush said. "What Carl did would not have occurred in the circumstances last year."

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, does not expect the issue to escalate at Bristol, where tempers usually flare.

"We expect our drivers to race hard and occasionally lean on each other," Pemberton said. "I think they are capable of doing that without harming the show or anything else."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.