Kyle Larson Wins at BMS with a Little Help From His Friend
BRISTOL, TN - RIS - Kyle Larson won the NASCAR Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but he had help. It is a long story, but in the end, teammate Chase Elliott, who had fallen laps down while battling with Kevin Harvick, decided to help fellow Hendrick Motorsports driver Larson. The incident is in the eye of the watcher, but regardless, Larson won the race with Kevin Harvick second. The result was familiar.
Kyle Larson denied Kevin Harvick his first win of the season with a masterful pass at Bristol Motor Speedway that was overshadowed Saturday night by a post-race skirmish between Harvick and reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott.
Tempers were so hot that Harvick, his losing streak now at exactly one year, declared “I'm ready to rip somebody's head off” to a crowd undecided if Harvick or Elliott should be booed or cheered.
Elliott led a race-high 175 laps but Harvick passed him with 33 laps to go in an aggressive sequence in which their cars touched. It caused a flat tire on Elliott's Chevrolet while Harvick was able to drive away unscathed.
Harvick appeared headed to his first win of the season, his last win was Bristol a year ago, but a furious Elliott returned to the track after a tire change and deliberately slowed down in front of Harvick in an attempt to ruin Harvick's race.
"I'm tired of it. He does it all the time," Elliott said.
The slowdown worked with four laps to go. Harvick could not catch Larson, and the rest was history.
it was a banner night for Hendrick Motorsports, which got a win from Larson and kept all four of its drivers in the playoffs. Alex Bowman and William Byron were both in danger of elimination at Bristol, the third and final race of the first round when NASCAR cuts the field from 16 to 12.
Instead, Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Michael McDowell were eliminated. Busch's elimination means Chip Ganassi will not win a championship during his 20-year NASCAR career. He's sold his team effective at the end of the season and Busch was his final title chance.
But as the eliminated drivers sulked over their fate and Larson celebrated on the frontstretch, Harvick and Elliott fumed on pit road.
The two at first parked their cars next to each other on pit road after the race, then followed each other down until they parked nose-to-tail and both drivers jumped from their vehicles. Harvick kept his helmet on and Elliott's finger immediately rose to Harvick's face.
The jawing continued, briefly became physical, and eventually led to a private discussion in Elliott's hauler.
The field of playoff competitors is set:
Tyler Reddick, Richard Childress Racing
Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing
Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing
Michael McDowell, Front Row Motorsports
ADVANCING TO THE ROUND OF 12
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing
Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing
Joey Logano, Team Penske
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports
Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing
William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports
Ron Fleshman with John Davison
RIS NASCAR Editor. Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.