Kyle Larson edges Kevin Harvick, tempers flare at Bristol

9/18/2021 11:48:24 PM EST

Kyle Larson added to his NASCAR Cup Series-leading win total on Saturday night when he passed Kevin Harvick for the lead with four laps to go to win the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.

Larson's sixth win of the season came by fractions of a second over Harvick.

"It was so cool to race there for the win. So cool," Larson said. "I love this place. It's by far my favorite track."

Harvick remained winless this season and finished as runner-up, .227 seconds behind Larson in the second race of the year at Bristol.

After the race, Harvick and Chase Elliott got into a shoving match on pit lane. The fracas stemmed from contact the two drivers made with 35 laps to go and as they were competing for the lead.

Harvick appeared to moved up into Elliott and the contact cut down one of Elliott's tires, forcing him to pit.

Elliott got back in the mix. One lap down toward the end of the race, he appeared to block race-leader Harvick, which allowed Larson to move in and take the lead.

Asked about the pushing incident, Harvick said, "I just told him it was kind of a chicken (stuff) move that he did there at the end. We're racing for the freaking win at Bristol. We're three wide in the middle and he throws a temper tantrum. I was just trying to get the lead and race hard and he pulls up in front of me and just sits there until I lose the whole lead.

"I'm ready to rip somebody's freakin head off."

In Elliott's view, the move mirrors a Harvick tact.

"It's something he does all the time. He runs into your left side constantly," Elliott said. "He did it to me at Darlington a few weeks ago because he was tired of racing with me. Where he does it on purpose, it doesn't matter. At some point, I've got to draw the line. I don't care who he is or how long he's been doing it, I'm going to stand up for myself and my team."

William Byron, Larson's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, finished third to squeeze his way into the Round of 12 of the Playoffs.

Joining those three top-three drivers in the Round of 12, which begins next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway: Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski.

Bounced from the Playoffs were Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell, Tyler Reddick, Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola.

Team Penske's Blaney finished fourth in the race and Hendrick Motorsports' Bowman was fifth.

Two-time champion Kyle Busch appeared to be cruising into the next round. But with 45 laps to go, his Joe Gibbs Racing car had a tire go down. He had to pit and when he returned to the track, he was just two points above the cutline.

With 26 laps to go, Bell scraped the wall and had to pit. His seemingly comfortable position vis a vis advancing to the Round of 12 vanished as he was just 10 points above the cutline.

But the key battle for the final berth in the second round of the Playoffs saw Reddick, Byron and Almirola just a couple of points apart over the final laps.

Byron finished two points ahead of Reddick and Almirola.

--Field Level Media

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