By David Morgan, Associate Editor
CONCORD, N.C. – Three weeks removed from their skirmish at Bristol, tensions remained high between Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick and midway through Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte, they boiled over – with Playoff implications on the line.
Racing through Turn 8 on lap 56, Harvick found himself behind Elliott, giving the defending series champion a nudge, which sent him spinning into the wall, causing heavy damage to the rear end of the No. 9 Chevrolet.
Under caution, Elliott’s team was able to get the car repaired enough to be able to return to the track. However, the real damage was to Elliott’s position in the points standings, as the incident with Harvick had dropped him below the cut-off line, putting him in real danger of being eliminated and not being able to defend his championship.
With that in mind, the frustration was certainly building up both behind the wheel and on top of the pit box as Elliott and his crew had revenge on the brain at that moment.
Crew chief Alan Gustafson radioed to his driver, saying: “If we get a chance to wreck him, that’ll lock us in.”
Elliott responded with three simple words: “Don’t you worry.”
Spotter Eddie D’Hondt also chimed in, saying: “Oh, it’s going to happen.”
Keeping an eye out for Harvick as the laps wore on, the patchwork repairs on Elliott’s car began to come apart, with the rear bumper cover eventually coming loose and flying off the car, bringing out the caution Elliott needed to catch back up.
After the caution, Elliott worked his way back into position to put Harvick in his sights, but wouldn’t get the chance to enact revenge.
Heading into Turn 1 with 11 laps to go, Harvick locked up the front wheels on his No. 4 Ford sliding right into the tire barrier on the outside of the turn, taking himself out of the race in almost the same fashion that Brad Keselowski did back in 2018.
Elliott and company let their feelings be known on the crash, simply saying “Karma” over the radio afterwards.
“Just pushed it in there too hard and I got the tire locked up and I couldn’t stop it,” Harvick said. “I felt like I needed to go to get a couple of spots back that I lost and I got the left front locked up and I couldn’t get it to turn.”
With Harvick now out of the picture, Elliott was able to focus on advancing on in the Playoffs, bringing his battered Chevrolet home in 12th place and keeping his title defense alive.
“Fortunately, it was early enough in the race where we were able to fix it,” Elliott said of his team repairing his car and getting him back in the action. “Got the caution, was able to keep fighting. Really proud of that.
“We could have easily given up or not fixed it to the proper standard and had something break or had a tire rub. Everybody just did a really good job today and I’m super proud of that coming off of a really fast car. I thought we had a shot to win. Obviously, that didn’t happen. In the grand scheme moving on is the most important thing. Our season is still alive. I’m pumped.
“As far as Kevin goes, just want to wish them a Merry offseason and a Happy Christmas. My opinion [of him] is certainly not changing, but it’s all good. Just glad to be moving on.”
Elliott’s car owner, Rick Hendrick, also chimed in on the latest episode between the two, noting how upset the team was when the incident occurred and saying the team is ready to just go and race over the final four weeks of the season.
“Everybody was upset when that happened today,” Hendrick said. “It looked like Chase could be done and out of the Playoffs. I mean, it was a lot of heated feelings.
“He came back, was able to win. Harvick wrecked himself, I guess. I hope it’s over. We don’t want to race that way. We want to just race. That’s not our style. Just go out, if a guy is better than you, he wins. Just do your job. If you get beat, you get beat.
“It never feels good to push somebody out of the way. I mean, a little rubbing or something, that’s okay. But just to wreck somebody, that’s not good.”
While Elliott and Hendrick appear ready to put things with Harvick behind the, the same may not be true in the Harvick camp. Asked whether the contact with Elliott was payback from their earlier run-in, Harvick all but confirmed it, saying: “You remember Bristol.”
Then questioned on whether things were over between him and Elliott, Harvick just turned and smirked before walking away.