Kyle Larson Scores Win In Wild And Heated Cup Series Playoff Elimination Race At Bristol

Kyle Larson celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kyle Larson celebrated victory in Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race with a burnout on the frontstretch at Bristol Motor Speedway, as tempers flared between Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott on pit road. 

With an assist from Elliott, who took Harvick’s line at the .533-mile concrete track and slowed his progress, Larson made the winning pass on Lap 397 of 400 and sealed his sixth NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season. 

At the other end of the spectrum, Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick, Kurt Busch and Michael McDowell were eliminated from the Playoffs in the cutoff race of the Round of 16. William Byron snagged the final transfer spot into the Round of 12 by finishing third behind Larson and Harvick.

That result gave Byron a two-point edge over Almirola and Reddick, the first two drivers out of the Playoff.

On Lap 465 of 500, as Harvick was attempting to pass Elliott for the lead, the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford pinched Elliott’s Chevrolet toward the outside wall, with contact between the cars cutting a tire on Elliott’s machine. 

Elliott brought his car to pit road on Lap 466, lost three laps in the process and returned to the track behind Harvick. On new tires, Elliott quickly passed Harvick to get one lap back and took Harvick’s line at the top of the track. 

Larson gradually closed on Harvick and made the winning pass on Lap 397. Larson did an admirable job keeping his car under control as Harvick retaliated with contact to the rear of Larson’s Camaro on the frontstretch. 

“Yeah, that was an awesome race,” said Larson, who won for the first time at Bristol and the 12th time in his career. “It was so cool to be able to race there for the win. Obviously, Harvick and Chase got together. Chase was upset. Kind of held him up. It got Harvick having to move around and use his tires up off the bottom.

“I started to get some dive-ins working off of (Turn) 2, got a big run, decided to pull the trigger, slide him, squeeze him a little bit. Then he had me jacked up down the frontstretch. It was wild.” 

While Larson celebrated, Harvick and Elliott traded their views of the finish in a heated exchange on pit road.

“It’s just chicken (expletive),” Harvick said after the confrontation broke up. “I don’t know what else to say. Throw a temper tantrum like you’re two 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. If he doesn’t get his way, he throws a fit.”

Not surprisingly, Elliott had a different interpretation of the events in the closing stages of the race.

“It’s something that he does all the time,” said the reigning Cup Series champion, who finished 25th. “He runs into your left side constantly at other tracks, and sometimes it does cut down your left sides. Other times it doesn’t. 

“Whether he does it on purpose, it doesn’t matter. At some point, you’ve got to draw the line. I don’t care who he is and 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.” 

Of the 12 drivers who advanced to the second round of the Playoff, four represent Hendrick Motorsports (Elliott, Larson, Byron and Alex Bowman); four represent Joe Gibbs Racing (Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell); and three represent Team Penske (Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney).

Harvick is the lone driver from Stewart-Haas Racing to advance to the Round of 12.

Both Kyle Busch and Bell survived cut tires near the end of the race to clinch spots in the next round. Blaney finished fourth and Bowman fifth on Saturday night. Keselowski, Truex, Erik Jones, Hamlin and Matt DiBenedetto completed the top 10. 

Harvick and Elliott later continued their discussion behind closed doors in Elliott’s No. 9 transporter.

Chase Elliott (left) and Kevin Harvick (right) have a heated conversation after an incident late in the NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

NASCAR Cup Series Race – 61st Annual Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race

Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol, Tennessee

Saturday, September 18, 2021

               1. (5)  Kyle Larson (P), Chevrolet, 500.

               2. (8)  Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, 500.

               3. (14)  William Byron (P), Chevrolet, 500.

               4. (7)  Ryan Blaney (P), Ford, 500.

               5. (11)  Alex Bowman (P), Chevrolet, 500.

               6. (10)  Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, 500.

               7. (1)  Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 500.

               8. (22)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 500.

               9. (2)  Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 500.

               10. (19)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 500.

               11. (3)  Joey Logano (P), Ford, 500.

               12. (13)  Tyler Reddick (P), Chevrolet, 500.

               13. (20)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 500.

               14. (17)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 500.

               15. (18)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 500.

               16. (28)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 500.

               17. (27)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 500.

               18. (12)  Aric Almirola (P), Ford, 500.

               19. (15)  Kurt Busch (P), Chevrolet, 500.

               20. (23)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 499.

               21. (9)  Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 499.

               22. (21)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 498.

               23. (25)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 498.

               24. (16)  Michael McDowell (P), Ford, 498.

               25. (4)  Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 497.

               26. (31)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 497.

               27. (35)  JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 495.

               28. (26)  Cole Custer, Ford, 494.

               29. (6)  Christopher Bell (P), Toyota, 493.

               30. (36)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 487.

               31. (33)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 482.

               32. (38)  David Starr(i), Toyota, 482.

               33. (37)  James Davison, Chevrolet, 474.

               34. (34)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, Accident, 375.

               35. (30)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, Accident, 313.

               36. (29)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 216.

               37. (32)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, Accident, 215.

               38. (24)  Ryan Newman, Ford, DVP, 177.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  87.409 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 2 Mins, 56 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.227 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  8 for 71 laps.

Lead Changes:  23 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   M. Truex Jr. (P) 1-5;C. Elliott (P) 6-43;B. Keselowski (P) 44;C. Elliott (P) 45-83;K. Larson (P) 84-90;D. Hamlin (P) 91-121;K. Larson (P) 122;D. Hamlin (P) 123-129;B. Keselowski (P) 130;K. Larson (P) 131-137;B. Keselowski (P) 138-144;D. Hamlin (P) 145-171;R. Blaney (P) 172;K. Larson (P) 173-253;B. Keselowski (P) 254;K. Harvick (P) 255-264;R. Blaney (P) 265-307;K. Harvick (P) 308-336;K. Larson (P) 337-365;R. Blaney (P) 366;K. Larson (P) 367-412;C. Elliott (P) 413-464;K. Harvick (P) 465-496;K. Larson (P) 497-500.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Larson (P) 7 times for 175 laps; Chase Elliott (P) 3 times for 129 laps; Kevin Harvick (P) 3 times for 71 laps; Denny Hamlin (P) 3 times for 65 laps; Ryan Blaney (P) 3 times for 45 laps; Brad Keselowski (P) 4 times for 10 laps; Martin Truex Jr. (P) 1 time for 5 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 11,5,9,2,12,4,18,20,19,24

Stage #2 Top Ten: 5,11,2,24,9,4,12,20,8,18

Comments

  1. Lost respect for Elliott after that race. Harvick would have won if not for his antics. That’s not how a champion races. Larson’s win should have an astrick next to it.

  2. Same could be said for Harvick. He runs Chase up, cuts his tire, cost him a potential win. Fair is fair, no? At least the two of them had the respect to keep it out of the media and discuss it in the hauler.

  3. Cmom this is a 1/2 mile high banked fast track and you call it antics?????????

  4. Harvick being Harvick. Elliott didn’t care for it and reacted. Such a reaction is rare in today’s sanitized environment that is Cup racing. One of the many reasons I no longer bother to watch.

  5. Viva Race Fan says

    Karma is so much fun

  6. A good race for once. Kind of an ‘Eye for an Eye’ outcome. Interestingly, Harvick would not take his helmet off. Reminded me of that Jeff Gordon thing a few years ago. Kudos to Elliot.

  7. first of all I am a fan of both drivers so as race fans we all know what goes around comes around with that being said somewhere down the road the shoe will be on the other foot when this happens It will be interesting to hear Chases comments

  8. Harvick is seeded 12th now and needs a perfect round maybe even a win to advance. If he doesn’t advance, could he make sure Elliott don’t either? Could do he pull a Kenseth?

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