BRISTOL, Tenn. - Kevin Harvick’s bid for a second straight win in the annual Bristol Night Race came up just short as Kyle Larson passed him with four laps to go and went on to claim his sixth win of the season.
The finish, however, was controversial after Harvick and Chase Elliott battled for the lead. Harvick passed Elliott with 36 laps to go after their two cars made slight contact, resulting in Elliott getting a flat tire. That forced him to pit road, but after returning to the track he found himself back in the thick of it as Harvick was trying to hold off Larson. Elliott appeared to take away Harvick’s preferred line, which slowed him enough to allow Larson to eventually catch and pass him.
Ryan Blaney finished fourth, Brad Keselowski sixth and Matt DiBenedetto 10th as Ford placed four drivers in the top 10.
Despite the disappointment of not winning, Harvick still advanced to the Round of 12, along with Blaney, Keselowski and Joey Logano. Aric Almirola and Michael McDowell were both eliminated. Almirola missed out by two points after battling all night long to stay above the cutline.
The Round of 12 gets underway on Sunday, Sept. 25 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM).
PLAYOFF STANDINGS FOLLOWING BRISTOL
Kyle Larson 3059
Martin Truex Jr. 3029
Denny Hamlin 3024
Ryan Blaney 3024
Kyle Busch 3022
Chase Elliott 3021
Alex Bowman 3015
William Byron 3014
Joey Logano 3013
Brad Keselowski 3008
Christopher Bell 3005
Kevin Harvick 3002
NCS RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
1st -- Kyle Larson
2nd -- Kevin Harvick
3rd -- William Byron
4th -- Ryan Blaney
5th -- Alex Bowman
6th -- Brad Keselowski
7th -- Martin Truex Jr.
8th -- Erik Jones
9th -- Denny Hamlin
10th -- Matt DiBenedetto
REMAINING FORD FINISHERS
11th -- Joey Logano
13th -- Chase Briscoe
18th -- Aric Almirola
23rd -- Chris Buescher
24th -- Michael McDowell
28th -- Cole Custer
31st -- Josh Bilicki
35th -- Anthony Alfredo
37th -- B.J. McLeod
38th -- Ryan Newman
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Subway Delivery Ford Mustang
WHAT WAS YOUR CONVERSATION WITH CHASE AFTER THE RACE?
“I told him it was kind of a chicken @#@# move that he did there at the end. We’re racing for the frickin win at Bristol. We’re three-wide in the middle and he throws a temper tantrum, like I was just trying to get the lead and race him hard. Then he pulls up in front of me and just sits there until I lose the whole lead, so I just hate it for our Subway Ford Mustang team to be able to lose a race like that. I watched him let the 24 go by and then anytime you run into him it’s a problem. They can boo all they want. I don’t care.”
HOW MUCH OF THIS IS COMPOUNDED BY THE FACT YOU WERE SO CLOSE TO WINNING?
“I lost so much there and then when I got behind the car I kept getting tight off the corner and I couldn’t run my line. I’m ready to rip somebody’s freaking head off.”
WHAT WAS YOUR DISCUSSION LIKE WITH CHASE?
“I just told him it was chicken @#@# what he did. Instead of racing hard, he just sat out there and rode around like he did in the first stage for his teammate instead of racing hard. I mean, the guy hangs on my right-rear fender every week and we’re racing for the lead at Bristol and you throw a temper tantrum like that? I just hate it for my Subway Ford Mustang team.”
WHAT HAPPENED WITH CHASE?
“What else do you say? You throw a temper tantrum like you’re two years old because you got passed for the lead and got a flat tire. We barely even rubbed. It’s all Chase’s way or it’s no way and if he doesn’t get his way, then he throws a fit. He did the same thing earlier. He let the 24 go by in the middle of the stage and then just rode around until the 5 caught me, and I was tight behind him, and we wound up getting passed by the 5, so I just hate it for our guys.”
WHAT DID HE SAY TO YOU POST-RACE?
WHAT DID YOU SAY TO HIM?
“I told him I wanted to rip his freaking head off.”
ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang
CAN YOU BELIEVE HOW IT ENDED?
“No. It was frustrating. I’m disappointed to have it end like that just because we had battled so much adversity throughout the night and got ourselves in position to where we were running top 10 and doing what we needed to do, and then that caution came out there at the end where we had 18 laps on our tires and we stayed out, and for whatever reason when we re-fired on those tires the car was up on top of the racetrack, skating, wouldn’t turn, I didn’t have any side bite and just struggling. I don’t know. That’s not the way we wanted it to end, but we’ll keep going and battle it out the rest of the playoffs and see if we can’t finish inside the top 10 in points.”
WAS IT JUST WHAT IT HAD WHEN IT WAS ON LAPPED TIRES BECAUSE BEFORE THAT YOU WERE TOP FOUR LAP TIMES EVERY LAP?
“Yeah, our car was best on sticker tires. That one time we re-fired on cycled tires and I got a good restart and was able to kind of get some clean track and I could kind of manage. A few of the guys on new tires got back by me, but I could kind of hold my own. That last time there with all the new tires lining up right behind me I just got eaten alive and just lost too many spots. The more spots I lost, the worse my car drove further back in traffic, so just frustrating. I don’t even know how much we missed it by. I know it was a few.”
HOW WILL YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS PLAYOFFS?
“Just frustrated. I mean, our season as a whole was not what we wanted. We went to Loudon and pulled out a win, which was awesome, and then just kind of had a renewed sense of energy going into the playoffs and thought we were gonna do everything we needed to do in this first round to transfer to the next round and unfortunately it didn’t pan out. I can’t blame it on tonight. There were plenty of opportunities throughout the first two races where we gave up some points as well, so I can find two points in a lot of different places, so just frustrated.”
RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang
HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS YOUR TEAM’S PERFORMANCE?
“I thought tonight we did a good job of just staying kind of in the hunt all night. I felt like we kind of ran top five most of the night. It wasn’t the best car. I’d take off really good, but I couldn’t keep the long run speed as good as other guys, like the 4 was crazy fast on the long run and we just didn’t quite have that speed, but I thought we were a little better that last run and were kind of able to keep pace with the leaders, but just not quite enough. I’m proud of the effort. It’s nice to move onto the next round, that’s for sure, and look forward to Vegas.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ROUND TWO?
“Vegas has been good to us in the past. Talladega, you never know what could happen. We’ve had fast cars there. You’ve just got to stay in the race all day and then the Roval you just try to put a smooth race together again. I think they’re good tracks for us. We just have to do our job like I know the team can and see where we shake out.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang
A SOLID NIGHT FOR YOU. ARE YOU HAPPY WITH HOW IT TURNED OUT?
“Yeah. That’s the most speed we’ve shown in quite some time and I’m super proud of that. It’s awesome. That’s the best we’ve been. I’m thrilled to death with that and trying to move on and advance and find more speed for next week.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS NEXT ROUND?
“Talladega is real good for us. We’ll see about the others.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang
“It was just a struggle. We tried some things and didn’t really get anywhere with it. The car was just very disconnected, very free in, tight landing -- tight two-thirds especially and never were able to fix it with the adjustments we got in the race. It just eventually wears the front tires off and back up lights come on. I thought we might finish in the top 10 and get that out of it, but fell off pretty hard the last 15.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE THREE TRACKS IN ROUND TWO?
“I feel good. Vegas is probably a good one. Talladega is a wild card and I feel like our road course stuff has been top five material, so we’re gonna try to maximize it again just like we did this round.”
RYAN NEWMAN, No. 6 Kohler Generators Ford Mustang
“I don’t know. I got turned into the fence. I’m not sure if it was my fault or if I got hooked or what, but it ended our day for our Kohler Generators Ford.”