BRISTOL, Tenn. — Kevin Harvick shadowed Chase Elliott down pit road after Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford practically kissing the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet as they parked. Both exited their cars immediately, ready for some type of confrontation after their on-track drama.
Not even bothering with his helmet, Harvick marched over. Heated words were exchanged, but there was no physical contact until Elliott tipped up Harvick’s helmet with the hand he’d already been using to point in Harvick’s face. That’s when the shoving began, and the two had to be separated by officials.
Only then did Elliott leave the scene, escorted by a police officer. Harvick stayed to fulfill his media responsibilities, and the two later reconnected in the garage and ultimately in Elliott’s hauler to continue the discussion.
“It’s just chicken-(expletive),” Harvick said. “What else can I say? Throw a temper tantrum like you’re 2 years old because you got passed for the lead and got a flat tire. We barely even rubbed. It’s all Chase’s way or it’s no way. And if he doesn’t get his way, he throws a fit.”
Elliott held the lead with 36 laps remaining in the 500-lap event. Heading into Turn 3, Harvick used the lapped car of Josh Bilicki to hold up Elliott on the top line near the wall. Harvick and Elliott dipped low on the track, only to slide back up. It was then Harvick’s No. 4 Ford hit the left side of Elliott’s No. 9 Chevy and took the front spot.
The contact ended up cutting Elliott’s left-front tire, forcing him to pit.
“That’s the thing that sucks,” No. 9 crew chief Alan Gustafson told NASCAR.com. “Trying to win one of these races and he certainly took us out of contention.”
Elliott finished with a 25th-place result, three laps down despite leading 129 laps on the night. Harvick led the next 32 laps from there (among the 71 he led on this night) before Kyle Larson passed him with four circuits remaining to win. Harvick went down as the runner-up – still winless in 2021.
When Elliott returned to the track after his unplanned but necessary pit stop, he showed his displeasure toward Harvick on Lap 473, bumping him despite being in completely different places in the running order.
“Whether he did it on purpose, it doesn’t matter,” Elliott said on NBCSN. “At some point, you got to draw the line. I don’t care who he is or how long he’s been doing it; I will stand up for myself and my team.”
Said Gustafson on Elliott: “He’s a super nice guy, but he’s got his point. When he breaks, he obviously breaks.”
Neither driver was in a must-win situation when it came to the playoffs. Harvick clinched his spot in the Round of 12 after the Stage 2 break on Lap 250 by virtue of points. Elliott locked in his berth when Anthony Alfredo retired midway through the final stage.
That did not matter.
“You race to win,” Gustafson said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do.”
ALTERNATE ANGLE: See a different look of the pit road confrontation
The NASCAR Cup Series’ next race is Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
The two drivers openly later continued their conversation in the garage and then brought it into the No. 9 hauler for further privacy. What was said inside is currently unknown – unlike on pit road.
“I told him I wanted to rip his freaking head off,” Harvick said.