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CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 10: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, sits in the grass after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images) | Getty Images
CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 10: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, sits in the grass after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick Tangle at Charlotte ROVAL; Harvick Misses Cutline

By Dustin Albino

CONCORD, N.C. – Three weeks ago at Bristol Motor Speedway, Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick had a heated discussion after the 500-lap race, which saw the No. 9 car block the No. 4 Ford from winning. That came following a cut tire for Elliott after contact from Harvick.

You didn’t think that was over, did you?

Entering Sunday’s Cup Series Round of 12 cutoff race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, Elliott entered as the race favorite, winning the last two years. And to no surprise, the No. 9 Chevrolet was quick, winning the opening stage.

But having to pit at the end of the stage, Elliott was mired back in traffic. Still, he drove through the field to finish runner-up in the second stage, only behind Kyle Busch.

In that 25-lap stage, Elliott passed Harvick cleanly. But towards the beginning of the final stage on lap 57, Harvick throttled up in Turn 8, putting Elliott in the wall. The rear end of the No. 9 car was destroyed, including a broken track bar.

Was it intentional, though? Later on, Harvick said, “Sometimes, real life teaches you good lessons.” And, “You remember Bristol.”

The No. 9 team repaired the car as best it could, putting bear bond all over the rear of the car. While Elliott ended up going a lap down during a pit cycle — only to get it back his first lap on fresh tires — the No. 9 car’s bumper cover fell off with 23 laps to go, giving the team a much-needed caution.

Elliott was able to catch up to the rear of the field and avoid the chaos in the waning laps. And with 11 laps remaining, Harvick locked up his front tires and drove into the Turn 1 wall.

The playoff are over for Harvick.

“I just pushed in in there too hard and I got the tire locked up and I couldn’t stop it,” Harvick said. “I felt like I needed to go to get a couple spots back that I had lost, and I got the left front locked up and couldn’t get it to turn.”

Elliott, though, rebounded to finish 12th, above the cutline by 40 points. He’s just happy the team was able to execute and not give up on its playoff chances.

“We’re just eyes forward and just excited to be moving on,” Elliott said after the race. “That’s the big picture and that’s really all that matters to me and my group. We’ll keep fighting and see where we end up.

“To overcome adversity, fortunately it was early enough in the race where we were able to fix it and got the caution and we were able to keep fighting. Everybody did a really good job today and I’m super proud of that.”

But on the incident with Harvick, Elliott isn’t too concerned.

“As far as Kevin goes, just want to wish them a Merry Offseason and a happy Christmas,” he said.

Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, hopes the dispute is over between the two drivers. He believes that NASCAR needs to intervene and put an end to the conflict.

“I think they’re the only one that can stop it and I hope they do,” Hendrick said. “The crew chiefs and everybody can do as best they can, but it’s up to the drivers themselves. I’ve been in the situation before and NASCAR can handle it.

Nonetheless, Hendrick believes the No. 9 team has handled the adversity well over the last month.

He does, though, hope it’s over.

“We don’t want to race that way, we want to just race,” he added. “That’s not our style. Go out, and if a guy is better than you, he wins and just do your job. It never feels good to push someone out of the way. A little rubbing or something, that’s OK. But just to wreck somebody, that’s not good.”

After the points reseed, Elliott is sixth in the championship standings, just two points below the cutline. Harvick, meanwhile, sits ninth, a hefty 45 points above 10th.