Kevin Harvick has undoubtedly had a frustrating 2021 season. After winning an impressive nine times in 2020, the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion hasn’t made a journey to victory this year. In Saturday night’s race in Bristol, Stewart-Haas Racing’s No.4 car came out on top to claim the first victory. However, Chase Elliott had something to say about it.
The defending champion objected to a late-race Harvick action that resulted in a tire cut and ended his chances of victory. Elliott returned the favor, hitting Harvick several laps later, then positioned himself strategically in front of him, allowing Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson to catch up and claim the victory. After the race, a hot Harvick took on Elliott on the pit lane for everyone to see. He then cursed the incident on national television, and then, a few minutes later, confronted Elliott again and threatened him with retaliation.
Chase Elliott dominated in Bristol and led a record 175 laps. With 65 laps to go, Kevin Harvick followed Elliott as the two cars made their way through sporadic traffic, with Kyle Larson hiding half a second behind.
36 laps from the end, the leaders found themselves behind a pack of overlaps. After clearing several cars, the two ran into Josh Bilicki’s No.52 car, which was driving on the outside lane. Harvick stayed low as Elliott temporarily moved behind Bilicki before diving under him and making it three wide.
Once the two cars cleared Bilicki, Harvick slid down the track and made contact with Elliott outside. Within seconds, Elliott’s left forward fell flat and ended his chances of winning.
After the pit stop, Elliott returned to the track and with 27 laps to go, sent a message to Harvick. Car # 9 rolled over the outside of Harvick before diving lower and then sliding to the side of car # 4 – a similar motion that had cut its tire several laps earlier.
Elliott stayed ahead of Harvick, and with four to go, watched Larson fall low and pass for the lead on his way to victory.
Two drivers compete on the pit lane
Immediately after the race, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott pulled up next to each other at the pit lane entrance. Eventually the two cars made their way to the other end of the pit road where the two drivers quickly got out of their vehicles, and Harvick rushed over to Elliott’s car. After several minutes of heated conversation, including Elliott pointing his finger at Harvick’s helmet-covered face, the two separated. The 45-year-old driver was the first to be interviewed.
“I just told him it was kind of a chicken move he did there at the end,” said Harvick upset. “We’re running for the damn victory at Bristol, three wide, he throws a tantrum. I was just trying to take the lead and beat him hard. Then he stops in front of me and sits there until I lose all my head.
Unsurprisingly, Elliott had a different perspective.
“Well, that’s something he does all the time. He’s constantly bumping into your left side on other tracks, ”Elliott said. “Sometimes it cuts your left side, other times it doesn’t. Did it to me in Darlington a few weeks ago because he was sick of chasing me. It doesn’t matter whether he did it on purpose. At some point you need to draw a line. I don’t care who he is or how long he’s been doing it. I will defend myself and my team and we are going on the road. “
Harvick threatens Elliott with retaliation
After the pit-road showdown, TV cameras followed the couple and showed the two having another heated discussion near the carriers. Several reporters stood nearby, recording the action and audio. The Athletic’s Jordan Bianchi captured the conversation when Harvick threatened Elliott with retaliation.
“You don’t run smart,” Harvick told Elliott twice. “Now I’m just going to run over you. “
Shortly after this exchange, the two drivers entered Elliott’s truck for another private conversation. The content of this conversation has not been disclosed. One thing is quite clear: The next round of the NASCAR playoffs just got a lot more interesting.
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