BRISTOL, Tennessee – After slamming together multiple times on the racetrack, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott had multiple heated conversations afterward as NASCAR’s biggest feud of the season erupted Saturday night.
“Just chickenshit,” Harvick said when asked about the battle with Elliott in the closing laps at Bristol Motor Speedway. “I mean, what else do you 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, then he throws a fit.
“I told him I wanted to rip his freaking head off.”
“It’s something he does all the time,” Elliott told NBC Sports reporter Dave Burns to cheers from a crowd of thousands that lingered long after the checkered flag. “He runs into your left side constantly at other tracks and sometimes it does cut your left side and other times it doesn’t. Did it to me at Darlington a few weeks ago because he was tired of racing with me. Whether he did it on purpose, it 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 myself, my team and we’ll go on down the road.”
The confrontation stemmed from an incident with 35 laps remaining when Harvick and Elliott collided while racing for the lead in lapped traffic. Elliott, who had led the previous 52 laps, pitted for a flat left-front tire from the contact.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver quickly made his displeasure known upon returning to the track, hitting the left side of Harvick’s No. 4 Ford and squeezing him up the track while getting a lap back.
Elliott then kept his No. 9 Chevrolet in front of Harvick, who eventually lost the lead and the victory to Kyle Larson, Elliott’s teammate, with four laps remaining.
“We’re racing for the freaking win at Bristol,” Harvick told NBC Sports reporter Dillon Welch. “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. Just hate it for our team to be able to lose a race like that. I watch him let (teammate William Byron) the 24 go by in the middle of the stage, and then he just rode around until (Larson) caught me, and I was tight behind (Elliott), and we wounded up being passed by (Larson).”
In addition to two weeks ago at Darlington (video above), Elliott said his run-ins with Harvick had “happened a bunch. He gets upset with you racing at some places and turns into your left side and hopes that you cut a left-side tire down, and it happens more than I can count on two hands in my career racing in Cup. Six years and more than 10 times. I’ve had enough.”
Elliott parked in front of Harvick in pit lane after the race, and the fireworks began.
As team members pushed in on the drivers, Elliott pointed in Harvick’s face and pushed his helmet.
“I couldn’t hear him,” Elliott said when asked what was said. “He had his helmet on and stuff. I’m 25 and I at least took my helmet off to have a conversation with him and he’s 40-however years old. Nothing new.”
After throwing one of his gloves at Elliott’s crew members, Harvick took off his helmet and slammed it hard enough to dent the roof of his car after the row. About 5 minutes later, he made a beeline to confront Elliott again as they were walking toward each other behind the row of Cup haulers in the Bristol infield.
— Nate Ryan (@nateryan) September 19, 2021
As a crowd gathered that included Harvick’s business manager and a police officer, an animated 2-minute conversation ensued with Harvick telling Elliott, “You don’t race smart. You don’t race smart. Now I’m just going to run you the (expletive) over.”
After Harvick briefly confronted a reporter from The Athletic who was filming the conversation, the drivers entered the No. 9 hauler together for a meeting that lasted at least 10 minutes.