BRISTOL, Tenn. – The legend of Kyle Larson continues to grow.
With three laps remaining late Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway, the cool Californian executed a textbook pass around Kevin Harvick to win the Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“That was awesome,” Larson said. “It was so cool to be able to race for the win here.”
In a sequence that will be replayed often, Larson zipped to the high side of track before diving under Harvick with a daring slide move. From there, Larson charged to his first BMS victory.
How did Larson execute his magic en route to his sixth win of the season?
“I just got a big run, and then decided to pull the trigger and slide [Harvick],” Larson said. “I squeezed [Harvick] a little bit and he had me tracked down the front stretch. It was wild and I had my hands full.”
An estimated crowd of 80,000 witnessed the race – a season-high for the sport. Many of those fans were on their feet cheering the post-race theatrics featuring Larson and the peeved tandem of Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott, who were involved in a skirmish in the closing laps.
Harvick and Elliott engaged in a heated face-to-face chat on pit road after the checkered flag. Following their animated interviews, the two drivers continued their chat in Elliott’s hauler.
“It was kind of a [expletive] move that [Elliott] did there at the end,” Harvick said. “We were racing for the win and were three-wide in the middle, and [Elliott] throws a temper tantrum.”
That dispute began with 34 laps remaining when Harvick forced his way around Elliott for the lead.
Moments later, Elliott experienced tire issues that required a sudden visit to the pits. The frustrated Elliott made an aggressive run on Harvick shortly after returning to the track.
“Then [Elliott] pulled up in front of me and he just sits there until I lost the lead,” Harvick said. “The fans can boo all they want, I don’t care. I’m ready to rip somebody’s fricking head off.”
Elliott had a different perspective on his showdown with Harvick.
“That was something [Harvick] does all the time,” Elliott said. “He runs into your left-side constantly at tracks. He did it to me at Darlington because he was tired of racing with me.
“Whether he does it on purpose, it doesn’t matter. At some point, you’ve got to draw the line. I don’t care who he is or how long he’s been doing this. I’m going to stand up for myself and my team.”
Harvick finished second, with William Byron, Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman rounding out the top five.
Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman and William Byron survived the playoff suspense in the cutoff stage, while Tyler Reddick and Aric Almirola both failed to qualify by two-point margins. Kurt Busch and Michael McDowell also failed to advance.
Martin Truex Jr. started from the pole, but Denny Hamlin won the first stage. By lap 208, Larson had taken a lead over Hamlin by two seconds and won Stage 2.
A dramatic sequence unfolded on lap 400 when Hamlin cut a tire while trying to navigate around Larson on the low side of the track.
That set the stage for the latest Bristol memory starring Larson.
Following an afternoon rain shower and storm warnings around the Bristol area, the green flag came without a delay.
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