Tempers flare at Bristol Speedway
By Hunter Thomas/ TheFourthTurn.com
The NASCAR Playoffs are intense enough, and when the NASCAR Cup Series visits Bristol, the intensity typically reaches its max. In the closing laps of Saturday night’s 500-lap race, contact between Harvick and Elliott, sent Elliott to pit road under green flag conditions to change tires. Once back onto the track, Elliott made it a mission to make Harvick’s night as difficult as possible by racing him extremely hard. “Well, it’s something he does all the time,” Elliott said. “He runs into your left side constantly at other tracks. Sometimes it does cut down your left side. Other times it doesn’t. He did it to me at Darlington a few weeks ago because he was tired of racing with me. Whether he did it on purpose, it doesn’t matter. At some point, you’ve got to draw the line. I don’t care who he is or how long he’s been doing it. I’m going to stand up for myself and my team and we’ll go on down the road.” Harvick was leading at the time, and of course, due to pitting under green, Elliott wasn’t on the lead lap. The battle between the two drivers allowed Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson and William Byron to make up significant ground on Harvick. Larson pulled off the racing winning move on Harvick with just four laps to go as he went on to win his sixth race of the season. Even once on pit road, the feud between Harvick and Elliott continued. “You throw a temper tantrum like you’re two years old because you got passed for the lead and got a flat tire,” Harvick said. “We barely even rubbed. It’s all Chase’s way or it’s no way and if he doesn’t get his way, then he throws a fit. He did the same thing earlier. He let the 24 (William Byron) go by in the middle of the stage and then just rode around until the 5 (Kyle Larson) caught me, and I was tight behind him, and we wound up getting passed by the 5, so I just hate it for our guys.” Elliott pulled up beside Harvick on pit road while NASCAR officials conducted a brief post-race inspection, and then Harvick fell in line behind Elliott as they continued down pit road. The two drivers stopped their cars and argued face-to-face. Security, officials, team members, media and fans swarmed the two drivers. Harvick eventually had to be held back. He slammed his helmet on the roof of his car in frustration as Elliott was guided away. “I told him it was kind of a chicken **** move that he did there at the end,” Harvick said. “We’re racing for the ******* win at Bristol. We’re three-wide in the middle and he throws a temper tantrum, like I was just trying to get the lead and race him hard. Then he pulls up in front of me and just sits there until I lose the whole lead, so I just hate it for our Subway Ford Mustang team to be able to lose a race like that. I watched him let the 24 go by and then anytime you run into him it’s a problem.” The two drivers parted ways, but they met up again near the team haulers behind pit road. The arguing got more intense, but both drivers kept their hands to their selves. Eventually, they saw motorsports journalist for The Athletic, Jordan Bianchi filming the argument, and they confronted him. With phones and cameras capturing all of the moments, Harvick led Elliott to Team Hendrick’s No. 9 team hauler, and the discussions continued. No one knows what was said in the hauler, but everyone wishes that they were a fly on that wall. Both drivers advanced to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs, so it will be interesting to see if they worked out their differences or if the conflict will reignite at some point in the final seven races. Harvick, who won nine races last season is still winless this year, and he currently sits 12th in the standings, 12 points behind the eighth and final transfer spot for the Round of 8, so the pressure to perform is higher than ever. As for Elliott, he currently sitssixth in the NASCAR Playoff standings 8 points ahead of the final transfer position. The Round of 12 of the NASCAR Playoffs will kickoff on Sunday, September 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Live coverage of the South Point 400 will broadcast live on NBCSN and PRN at 7 p.m. ET.