Chase Elliott’s NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro wasn’t the prettiest car on the track at the conclusion of Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL, but a 12th-place finish was enough to advance the defending champion into the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8.
The Dawsonville, Georgia-native was running inside the top-10 for the first portion of the event, and even was successful in winning the race’s first stage, but his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet found some trouble on Lap 56, when Kevin Harvick got into the back of him, sending him into the wall.
Elliott’s No. 9 was pretty much destroyed, and it even looked like he would be forced to retire from the event and give up his chance at defending his NASCAR Cup Series title, but through good work by his crew, he was able to return to the track with a car that looked like it had been through the depths of hell.
The 25-year-old was seemingly calm in his interview, and even wished the Stewart-Haas Racing team a merry off-season and a happy Christmas… okay, it may have been a little tongue-in-cheek, but maybe he really mean it?
“As far as Kevin [Harvick] goes, I just want to wish them a merry off-season and a happy Christmas,” Elliott told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns. Furthermore, when asked about his opinion of Harvick after this string of incidents, the defending series champion shrugged, saying “I mean.. my opinion is certainly not changing.”
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 10, 2021
Elliott wasn’t afforded the chance to retaliate on Harvick, after the 2014 Sprint Cup Series Champion over-cooked his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang into turn one with 11 laps to go, impacting the SAFER barrier. As the accident was happening, Harvick was sliding down the running order and into the clutches of Elliott, but the Hendrick Motorsports driver never had the opportunity to make contact before Harvick put himself out of the race.
What Initially Happened to Create the Tension?
If you didn’t watch more than today’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte, you may be confused on why Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick, two champions at NASCAR’s highest level, have beef with each other.
Well, that incident dates back to the first round of the playoffs, when the two drivers made contact in the closing laps at Bristol Motor Speedway, cutting down Elliott’s tire. The No. 9 returned to the track in front of Kevin Harvick, who was looking to secure his first win of the year, and “held his line”, holding up the Stewart-Haas Racing driver in the process. Instead, Elliott’s teammate Kyle Larson was able to secure the victory, with Harvick.
After the race, the pair engaged in a post-race scuffle of sorts on pit road, which was taken back to the garage area and out of the public eye. However, the following week, Harvick didn’t hold back in his pre-race comments at Las Vegas, saying talking to Elliott was like talking to his nine-year-old son, Keelan.
Since then, things have been… awkward to say the least, and there was even a precursor to this incident in the earlier stages of the event when Harvick made some contact with Elliott at the end of stage two.