NASCAR Cup Series

Kyle Larson wins BofA Roval 400 amidst another Elliott, Harvick beef

4 Mins read
Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Kyle Larson can’t seem to celebrate a NASCAR Cup Series playoff win in an elimination race without some sort of drama involving team-mate Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick in the background. As he scored his seventh win of the season in Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, everyone’s focus was on the grudge between Elliott and Harvick as the two tangled once again as they did at Bristol three weeks ago.

Denny Hamlin started on the pole ahead of Brad Keselowski.

Stages #1 and 2

Hamlin led until the competition caution on lap 10, during which he and other leaders pitted; Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Christopher Bell suffered a speeding penalty on his stop. Team Penske‘s Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney would assume the top spots for the restart, while third Penske driver Brad Keselowski spun further back on the backstretch shortly after.

On lap 19, Keselowski avoided another brush with disaster when he barely missed a spinning Ryan Newman. Blaney led the field to the restart but lost two positions to Elliott and Saturday Xfinity winner A.J. Allmendinger. Elliott, one of the top road racers in the Cup Series, and Allmendinger, whose six road course wins are the most in Xfinity Series history, sparred until the end of the stage. Elliott cleared Allmendinger on the final lap to take the win.

Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Logano, Kurt and Kyle Busch, William Byron, Michael McDowell, and Harvick rounded out the top ten. Kurt Busch and McDowell were eliminated in the Round of 16 while Allmendinger, being an Xfinity full-timer, is ineligible to receive stage points.

Allmendinger paced the field to kick off the second stage before losing the lead to Kyle Busch. Meanwhile, Larson and Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Alex Bowman began reporting electrical issues that forced them to change batteries, with Larson also having his alternator belt replaced, during a lap 33 caution for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spinning Chase Briscoe.

Busch led to the end of the stage. Elliott, Harvick, Blaney, Logano, Larson, Keselowski, Truex, Bowman, and Stenhouse followed. Stenhouse was the lone non-playoff driver in the top ten.

Stage #3

The final stage commenced with Byron leading.

On lap 55, Harvick and Elliott re-ignited their feud from Bristol when the former turned the latter into the wall, resulting in substantial but not fatal damage. As his car was still able to continue, Elliott sought out Harvick but ran at his own pace. With both drivers below the cut line, the situation sets up the potential for more drama entering the final Round of 12 race.

Byron continued to lead before pitting on lap 75, beginning a cycle of stops that allowed Kurt Busch, Chris Buescher, and Hamlin to lead laps before it resettled with Byron. Further back, Elliott’s wounded car dropped its rear bumper cover that resulted in a lap 86 caution, which quickly generated controversy as critics argued he should have received a black flag, a penalty that is often applied in such situations. However, such a body component is not required for road courses and short tracks.

Hamlin assumed first for the restart. On lap 92, Cup newcomer Joey Hand and Corey LaJoie hit the wall in turn two for a caution.

Shortly after another restart, Harvick met his own demise when Elliott was giving chase, only for Harvick to lock his brakes entering turn one and slam into the wall. Unlike Elliott, the damage was terminal and eliminated him from the playoffs.

Larson held off Hamlin on the final restart and led for the final eight laps to win his third road course race of the year. With his Coca-Cola 600 win in the spring, he is the first driver to sweep both Charlotte Motor Speedway races in a season since Kasey Kahne, coincidentally a former Hendrick #5 driver, in 2006 (when the fall race was also on the oval).

“I obviously had a pretty good idea (of being below the cut line),” began Larson in his post-race interview. “I’ve gone through it here a couple years ago, a few years ago in the #42. When you think you’re good, all of a sudden you’re running like fortieth—whoa, I’m down below the cut line.

“I knew I was going to have some sketchy moments, just had to pick my way through traffic, stay calm. We had some good restarts towards the end. Was able to use my tire advantage to get under Denny, squeeze him out of real estate off of four.”

While Larson moves on to the Round of 12, Hendrick team-mates Byron and Bowman were not as fortunate as they were eliminated; Bell and Harvick were also knocked out. Elliott was able to rebound from his early wreck to finish twelfth and advance.

“Our team has a lot of fight, I’m just super proud of that,” said Elliott after the race. “As far as Kevin goes, just want to wish them a merry offseason and a happy Christmas.”

Race results

1105Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet109Running
2298Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet109Running
31617Chris BuescherRoush Fenway RacingFord109Running
4918Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota109Running
5111Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota109Running
63021Matt DiBenedettoWood Brothers RacingFord109Running
7322Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord109Running
8420Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota109Running
9612Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord109Running
101248Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet109Running
111124William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet109Running
1289Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet109Running
132599Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet109Running
141523Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota109Running
15143Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet109Running
161934Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord109Running
171743Erik JonesRichard Petty MotorsportsChevrolet109Running
182341Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord109Running
193137Ryan PreeceJTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet109Running
2022Brad KeselowskiTeam PenskeFord109Running
211847Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet109Running
222214Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord109Running
232742Ross ChastainChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet109Running
242110Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord109Running
25131Kurt BuschChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet109Running
262038Anthony AlfredoFront Row MotorsportsFord109Running
273652Joey HandRick Ware RacingFord109Running
283715Josh Bilicki*Rick Ware RacingFord109Running
29519Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota109Running
302800Quin HouffStarCom RacingChevrolet109Running
313578Scott HeckertLive Fast MotorsportsFord109Running
323966Timmy Hill*MBM MotorsportsToyota108Running
3374Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord98Accident
343453Garrett Smithley*Rick Ware RacingChevrolet96Running
35267Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet93Accident
363251Cody Ware*Rick Ware RacingChevrolet90Accident
373877Justin Haley*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet66Engine
383316A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet57Engine
39246Ryan NewmanRoush Fenway RacingFord19Accident
Bold – Currently in playoffs
Underline – Eliminated from playoffs
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Cup points
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History major at San Jose State University and lifelong motorsports fan who covers NASCAR and the Stadium Super Trucks.
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