Perhaps Kevin Harvick should have done a better job of knocking Chase Elliott out of the race. The veteran driver and 2014 NASCAR champion carried over a grudge he held since the Bristol night race a few weeks ago into Sunday’s race at the Charlotte ROVAL.
During the Bristol race, Elliott was leading with Kevin Harvick stalking him in heavy lapped traffic as the laps wound down. Harvick caught Elliott the two cars got together, and Elliott’s Chevy was sent into the outside wall. Shortly after the contact a flat tire sent Elliott to the pits and out of contention for the win.
Eventual race winner, and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson moved up to second and Elliott, who returned to the race a lap down, first showed his displeasure with Harvick by bumping his Ford, then running just ahead of Harvick whose last win came at Bristol a year ago.
With Larson closing on Harvick, Elliott blocked Harvick, Larson slid by and went on to win. Harvick confronted Elliott on pit road after it was over and the two had a heated confrontation.
Harvick didn’t forget it seems.
Both drivers came into Sunday’s race at Charlotte, an elimination race, in relatively good shape to make the cut and move to the next round.
On lap 33 however, Harvick tried to exact his revenge. Coming out of Turn 7, with Elliott just ahead, Harvick put a bumper to Elliott’s Chevy sending the car into the outside wall. With a heavily damaged racecar, Elliott limped to the pits where the crew began furious repairs. Meanwhile in the Playoff race, Elliott fell below the cutline while Harvick was above.
Elliott and his crew didn’t give up, however. Instead, they made repairs on every pit stop, and Elliott sliced his way through the field. On lap 99 Elliott was closing on Harvick entering Turn 1. Harvick overshot the corner, and his Ford was sent head long into the wall. Harvick was out of the race, crashing with Elliott a couple cars behind, and without even a fender getting close.
“I just pushed it in there too hard, got the tire locked up,” Harvick said. “I felt like I needed to go to get a couple spots back I lost. I got the left front locked up and couldn’t turn.”
He didn’t hesitate to answer when asked if the earlier move on Elliott was in retaliation for Bristol.
“Sometimes real life teaches you good lessons,” he said, adding:
“You remember Bristol.”
For Harvick his mistake left him with a DNF in 33rd place, and out of the Playoffs.
“As far as Kevin goes,” Elliott said. “Just want to wish them a merry off-season and a happy Christmas.”
He added that his attitude toward Harvick isn’t shifting.
“Opinion’s certainly not changing,” he said. “But it’s all good. Just glad we’re moving on. Proud of our team.”
Elliott had a lot to be proud off. After falling below the cutoff after his accident, Elliott finished 12th and moved onto the Round of 8.
For Harvick, there’s always next year.
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