NASCAR drivers say the race was manipulated
Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott made contact in a NASCAR Playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Elliott went from battling for the race win to making a green flag pit stop.
When Elliott returned to the track, he entered three laps down, right behind race leader Kevin Harvick. Quickly, Elliott passed Harvick, Elliott was now just two laps down.
Elliott said over the radio, “Where’s the #5 at? I’ll help him out.”
Elliott, with four fresh tires then essentially parked his machine ahead of Harvick. The race leader was in dirty air and searching for a lane around Elliott.
Harvick was burning up his tires as he searched around the race track. As Harvick fumed, Kyle Larson closed. With 4 to go, Larson was able to slide Harvick for the race win.
After the race, Harvick and Elliott engaged in a pushing match on the pit lane. They led to a private discussion inside the No. 9 hauler.
Chase Elliott is a teammate to Kyle Larson, he helped place another trophy at Hendrick Motorsports.
Should NASCAR have stepped in after Bristol? Hamlin and Harvick think so. They expect a similar scenario to arise in the future…
Kevin Harvick never thought about the move Kyle Larson made
Larson and Harvick made some contact in the race for the win. However, Harvick didn’t even take a second look at that.
Kevin Harvick stated, “I never got past the point of the race being manipulated. I honestly never even looked at the Larson move. What was there 2-3 laps left? I mean, anything goes at that particular point.”
“When I look at the SMT data and see half-throttle (on Elliott). And I hear the radio transmission of, ‘Where’s the No. 5? I’m going to help him out.’ “
“I’m fine with however this whole outcome is. As long as it’s officiated the same way when the shoe’s on the other foot.”
“The move over flag was displayed for 30 laps. If we’re not going to enforce the move-over flag, like we do the black flag. As long as it’s the same for everybody. Those are the rules of engagement.”
“I just hope the rules don’t change when it’s other people.”
He added, “We talked plenty after the race.” However, he elaborated that no discussions took place since the track, “I don’t talk to many of them that are below 40.”
“I thought it was eye opening,” Denny Hamlin said a week after Bristol.
“In the sense that if you have a driver opening saying, ‘Hey, where’s my teammate, I’m going to come help him win.’ In a couple senses, you could define that as altering the outcome. Not running to 100%, whatever it might be.”
“I think they just figure it will all work itself out. I’m not sure it really will.”
“I got to thinking about that and how that could play out in a final race. Certainly, if that was allowed at Bristol, at Phoenix, you could do something very similar to that.”
“Maybe they [NASCAR] should have stepped in at Bristol. Now, the precedent is set.”
“But, we never know, some races they deem more important than others. At Phoenix, they give us a long speech about, ‘Don’t alter the race.’ But, what’s more important, Bristol of Phoenix? You gotta get through Bristol to get to Phoenix. They’re all important.”
Hamlin added, “Certainly would like to see some consistency on what they want us to do as far as ethical protocol.
Ahead of Las Vegas, Chase Elliott noted he wasn’t worried about Stewart-Haas Racing teammates ganging up on him and pulling a similar move that he pulled on Harvick.
Elliott said, “It’s up to those guys in how they want to move forward. In my eyes, I’m good. We’re focused on this round.”
Elliott essentially placed Harvick in dirty air and took a win away from him, without touching him. Does Elliott expect the same thing from the Stewart-Haas Racing cars for the rest of the Playoffs?
“Ask them, they can do whatever they want. Nothing I’m going to say or do is going to solve that. Whatever they want to do is fine with me. We’ll address it as it comes.”