Most eyes at Martinsville Speedway last night were on Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin as they took part in a heated exchange on the backstretch after the checkered flag flew on a chaotic finish under the lights.
They weren’t the only drivers who had a post-race discussion.
Both were involved in the massive crash that broke out as the field took the checkered flag for the First Data 500.
But not all the damage inflicted upon Blaney’s No. 21 and Harvick’s No. 4 came from the pileup. The damaged sheet metal also was the result of contact between the two drivers from extended battles that began in Stage 2 and stretched into the final segment.
One bit of battle saw Harvick on Blaney’s inside as they exited Turn 4. Blaney ran out of room and glanced off the outside wall and came down into Harvick.
The drivers, both among the eight remaining in the playoffs, hounded each other until the closing laps, when multiple restarts created “pandemonium” according to Blaney.
“It was pretty ridiculous with everyone wrecking each other and running into each other,” Blaney said. “I thought we were gonna make it through the last one, but we just kind of got caught up off of (Turn) 4 in all that stuff. At least we salvaged a decent day. Honestly, a lot of cars got torn up.”
As the dust began to settle, Harvick parked his car behind Blaney’s on pit road.
“I just told him … ‘Look, if you’re gonna park it at Martinsville, you’re gonna get hit,'” Harvick said. “He didn’t like getting hit, and I didn’t like the cheap shots, the brake checks and the hitting down the straightaway. It’s like I told him, I said, ‘If you want to race hard and you want to run into me after I pass you, that’s fine, but slamming me down the straightaway and brake-checking me is another thing.’ That’s the easy way to race.”
When their conversation was over, Harvick parted with a shot to Blaney’s ribs. Blaney’s response was a little harder.
Even with some bad feelings, Harvick found some enjoyment in the late-race mayhem and post-race arguments.
“It’s just Martinsville,” Harvick said. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s championship time. It’s time to get physical. … Bent fenders, hurt feelings. I love it.”