Desperate times call for desperate measures. Kevin Harvick isn’t necessarily desperate. At least not yet. Come Sunday, that could change, and in a hurry. And considering Harvick’s ongoing feud with Chase Elliott, the race at the Charlotte Roval with massive playoff implications could provide the opportunity and, more importantly, the incentive for the 2014 Cup Series champion to dump the reigning champion. Here’s why it might happen.
Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott feud started at Bristol
Prior to Bubba Wallace’s historic win at Talladega, one of the main NASCAR newsmakers had been the Kevin Harvick-Chase Elliott feud. It started at Bristol when the two drivers made contact multiple times and Elliott blocked Harvick late in the race, allowing his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson to capture the victory.
After the race, the drivers had multiple confrontations on pit road and in the garage area. Harvick threatened retaliation, saying, “Now I’m just going to run you the f*** over.”
At Las Vegas a week later, Harvick didn’t do anything on track, but clearly showed he had some unfinished business during the prerace media session when he publicly called out Elliott, comparing the 25-year-old driver’s behavior to that of his young son.
“It was like speaking to a nine-year-old,” Harvick said. “So I have good experience with it. Because that’s a daily process. Day-in, day-out process.”
Harvick has opportunity and incentive to dump Elliott at Charlotte Roval
In the last two races, nothing has happened between the pair on the track. That could change on Sunday at the Roval for several reasons.
For starters, it’s an elimination race and Kevin Harvick will start the race nine points below the playoff cut line. Ironically, Elliott and Kyle Busch are currently both nine points above. Remember, Elliott denied Harvick the win at Bristol and five important playoff points. Those points would come in extremely handy right now.
For those who suggest Elliott is the king of the road and won’t be around Harvick, think again. Guess who’s starting right next to each other in Row 4? And with both of them needing as many stage points as possible to advance, it makes sense that both will immediately try and work their way to the front. Add in numerous restarts throughout the race.
Opportunities galore for Harvick.
Harvick is no stranger to retaliation
Some suggest Kevin Harvick won’t retaliate. He’s got too much to lose. Just take a look at his past and he’s proven time and time again he’s not afraid to pay back someone when he feels that he’s been wronged.
Back in 2002, Harvick had an incident similar to this year at Bristol where he threatened retaliation. During a Truck Series race at Martinsville, Coy Gibbs spun him. Harvick said over his radio that he was going to get Gibbs back. He did. And NASCAR parked him for the rest of that race and suspended him from the Cup race the next day.
Last year during the playoffs, Harvick didn’t call his shot. He just did it, spinning Kyle Busch on the final lap of the playoff elimination race at Martinsville. Even Busch admitted after the race that he expected it to happen because he knew it was Harvick’s last chance to advance to the next round.
Sunday’s race is Harvick’s last chance to advance to the next round. Outside of winning the race, the 45-year-old driver is going to have to fight his way into the next round. And you can bet, based on his past history, if Chase Elliott stands in his way, he will do whatever it takes to advance.