By David Morgan, Associate Editor
When the NASCAR Cup Series rolls into Bristol Motor Speedway, it’s almost a guarantee that the night will end with bent sheet metal and hurt feelings.
Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race lived up to that hype as the closing laps featured a run-in between Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott that spilled over after the race into not one, but two heated conversations between the two drivers.
Everything started with contact between Harvick and Elliott as they were racing for the lead with 35 laps to go. Coming through Turn 4, Harvick’s car washed up the track and bounced off of the left side of Elliott’s car. Though Harvick was able to continue on in the battle for the lead with Kyle Larson, the contact had cut down Elliott’s left front tire, forcing him to pit road.
Needless to say, Elliott was furious and made his feelings known to Harvick when he returned to the track, chasing down the leaders and taking a side swipe at Harvick as he passed him on the way to getting one of his laps back.
From that point on, Elliott ran right in front of Harvick and didn’t cut him any slack, impeding his forward progress at every turn. With Harvick having to race harder to try and get around Elliott, Larson was able to take advantage of the situation, passing Harvick for the lead and the eventual win.
After the checkered flag flew, the two drivers ran into each other getting on to pit road ahead of the lug nut check and then Harvick stalked Elliott down the remainder of pit road before the two came to a stop, with Harvick’s front bumper resting on the rear bumper of Elliott’s car.
Both drivers then climbed from their respective machines and the argument started almost immediately, as both drivers angrily discussed what had just transpired between them. A few minutes of shouting and finger pointing passed before the confrontation was broken up and the two went their separate ways.
“I just told him it was kind of a chickenshit move that he did there at the end,” Harvick said of the heated conversation between the two. “We’re racing for the freaking win at Bristol. We’re three-wide in the middle and he throws a temper tantrum. I was just trying to get the lead and racing hard. Then he pulls up in front of me and just sits there until I lose the whole lead.
“I just hate it for our whole Subway Ford Mustang team to be able to lose a race like that. I watched him let the 24 by and then anytime you run into him, it’s a problem.”
As Harvick explained his side of it, boos began to rain down from the fans in the stands, but that didn’t faze him as he was still visibly angry at Elliott.
“They can boo all they want. I don’t care…. God damn, I ready to rip somebody’s freaking head off!”
For the other side of the story, Elliott didn’t back down for how he raced Harvick, noting it had been a pattern of behavior for the 2014 series champion.
“It’s something he does all the time,” Elliott said. “He runs into your left side constantly at other tracks and sometimes it does cuts down your left side and other times it doesn’t. He did it to me at Darlington a few weeks ago because he was tired of racing with me. And whether he did it on purpose 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 me and my team and we’ll go on down the road.
Afterwards, the matter wasn’t settled between the two as they had another conversation back around the haulers, but with some members of the media closing in and filming the proceedings, quickly retreated to Elliott’s No. 9 hauler to hash things out in private.