- Josh Scott
Larson wins again, Harvick and Elliott tangle post-race, in Wild Cutoff Race at Bristol
Kyle Larson passed Kevin Harvick with four laps to go, and held off the veteran driver by .22 seconds, to win the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday. The win is Larson's sixth win of the 2021 NASCAR season as well as his twelfth career victory. The Elk Grove, CA native has won more races this season than in his previous seven seasons in NASCAR combined.
William Byron finished third, which helped him avoid being eliminated from championship contention by two points, Ryan Blaney placed fourth, and Alex Bowman fifth. Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr, Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin, and Matt DiBenedetto finished out the top 10.
While Larson won the race, all eyes were on what took place after the finish. Harvick made contact with Chase Elliott, Larson's teammate, on track while battling him for the win with 34 laps to go. The contact would result in Elliott's left-front tire going flat, forcing the defending Cup Series champion to pit and dashing his hopes of winning the race. Elliott would finish the race 25th position, two laps down, but not before he made Harvick's chances of winning super difficult in the closing laps. As Harvick struggled to make his way around Elliott, Larson seized the opportunity and was able to muscle his way around the number 4 car and run away with the victory. While both drivers had to be physically restrained to be kept from fighting each other on pit road, neither driver held back from calling out the other verbally.
"It was a (expletive) move he pulled there," said a livid Harvick, during his post-race interview. "(The fans) can boo all they want, I don't care. I'm ready to rip somebody's head off."
"Whether or not he did it on purpose, it doesn't matter," a frustrated Elliott said, in response. "At some point, you have to draw the line. I'm gonna stand up for myself and my team."
While both drivers didn't win, both did advance to the next round of the playoffs and kept their championship hopes alive. However, four drivers saw theirs come to an end after the race. Tyler Reddick and Aric Almirola missed advancing by two points, 2004 champion Kurt Busch ended up six points below the cutoff line and Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell, 49 points behind.
The updated NASCAR Playoff standings are as follows:
After a wild first round, the round of 12 kicks off next Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Kyle Larson picked up his first win of the season there in the spring. The green flag drops for the South Point 400 at 7 p.m. on NBCSN.