Kyle Larson Wins Wild Bristol Night Race As Tempers Flare

Kyle Larson avoided the late race drama between Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott to win the Bass Pro Shops Bristol Night Race. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images).

Kyle Larson avoided the late race drama between Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott to win the Bass Pro Shops Bristol Night Race. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images).

Kyle Larson clawed his way past Kevin Harvick with a few laps remaining to win the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, thanks to an assist from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott.

“I started to get some dive-ins working off of two, got a big run, decided to pull the trigger, slide him, squeeze him a little bit,” Larson said.

“Then he had me jacked up down the frontstretch. It was wild.”

With 35 laps to go, Harvick and Elliott raced each other hard for the lead as the two drivers made contact. This ultimately caused Elliott’s left-front tire to go down. Elliott was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop that put him out of contention and dropped him to a 25th-place finish.

An upset Elliott held up Harvick long enough for Larson to complete the race-winning move, leading to tempers flaring between the two drivers after the race on pit road.

Quin Houff lost his left-rear tire on Lap 362, causing a caution, leaving playoff drivers Kurt Busch and Tyler Reddick trapped a lap down.

Shortly afterward on Lap 387, Houff brought out the caution again. Reddick benefited by being in the free pass position to get his lap back, giving the No. 8 Chevrolet a fighting chance to advance.

Following minor contact with Larson for the lead, Hamlin had a tire go down on Lap 399 as the No. 11 Toyota hit the wall to bring out the ninth caution of the race.

First, Reddick. Then, Busch got lucky from the yellow because the No. 1 Chevrolet got the free pass and back onto the lead lap.

This set up a nail-biting showdown between Byron, Almirola, Reddick and Busch for the final spot in the Round of 12.

In the closing laps, two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers ran into trouble. Christopher Bell pitted with damage, while teammate Kyle Busch made an unscheduled pit stop, due to a flat tire. Both JGR drivers were lucky enough to advance to the next round.

Stage 2

Like the first stage, Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin could not get away from each other at the front of the field. Hamlin prevailed last time, but Larson had the edge this time over the No. 11 Toyota as the regular-season champion went on to win Stage 2.

On Lap 167, Ryan Newman slid up in front of Cole Custer, putting both drivers in the wall. Then, Bubba Wallace ran into the back of Daniel Suarez trying to avoid the incident to bring out the caution.

Troubles struck playoff competitor Aric Almirola, who had smoke trailing the rear of the No. 10 Ford Mustang from the start of the stage. Almirola took advantage of the Lap 167 yellow flag to spend extra time on pit road with the hood up.

Unfortunately, Almirola received the black flag for leaking oil, so he pitted again and the team fixed an oil line that was leaking. Still running under caution, Stewart-Haas Racing fixed the problem in enough time to keep Almirola on the lead lap.

The caution returned on Lap 219 when Anthony Alfredo got put into the wall by Corey Lajoie. Alfredo was hit hard by BJ McLeod and Justin Haley piled in. McLeod and Haley retired from the race, while Alfredo was able to continue with damage for a while before taking it behind the wall, ending the rookie’s race prematurely.

Right before Stage 2 got underway, Chase Elliott was busted for speeding on pit road and had to restart at the rear of the field. He recovery nicely, coming across the line to finish the second stage in fifth-place.

Stage 2 Results: Larson, Hamlin, Keselowski, Byron, Elliott, Harvick, Blaney, Bell, Reddick, Ky. Busch.

Stage 1

An uneventful Stage 1 saw an intense battle in the closing laps between Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson slicing and dicing through lapped traffic.

With Bubba Wallace providing an assist to the bossman by taking away Larson’s line, Hamlin was able to clear the No. 5 Chevrolet and hold on to take the opening stage.

Wallace was rewarded with the free pass to get his lap back, with two playoff drivers ahead of the No. 23 Toyota holding their breaths and barely staying on the lead lap.

The stage break was perfect timing for Kurt Busch and Joey Logano, who were running in 21st and 22nd at the time. It allowed both playoff drivers an opportunity to make much needed adjustments to their cars.

Stage 1 Results: Hamlin, Larson, Elliott, Keselowski, Blaney, Harvick, Ky. Busch, Bell, Truex Jr., Byron.

Hot Tempers

Over the years, Bristol Motor Speedway has produced many classic, memorable moments. Once again, the Last Great Colosseum lived up to the hype.

In 2017, Kevin Harvick said he liked bent fenders and hurt feelings. However, it seemed like he did not appreciate Chase Elliott’s frustration after the Bristol Night Race, following contact with Harvick which ruined Elliott’s race.

“I told him it was kind of a chicken @#@# move that he did there at the end,” Harvick said.

“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.”

Elliott viewed Harvick’s role in the conflict as a common act for the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang.

“Well, it’s something he does all the time,” Elliott said.

“He runs into your left side constantly at other tracks. Sometimes it does cut down your left side. Other times it doesn’t. He did it to me at Darlington a few weeks ago because he was tired of racing with me. Whether he did it on purpose, it doesn’t matter. At some point, you’ve got to draw the line.”

As NASCAR heads west for Las Vegas Motor Speedway next weekend, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott will dominate the headlines entering Sin City. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images)

As NASCAR heads west for Las Vegas Motor Speedway next weekend, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott will dominate the headlines entering Sin City. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images)

Jones Shines

While most focused on the playoff drivers, Erik Jones ran his own race and the Richard Petty Motorsports driver earned a solid eighth-place result.

“We had some damage on the right side and the balance was just a bit tight to run further forward than we did,” Jones said.

“But proud of the effort and hope we can keep the good runs going.”
While most of the storylines surrounded the playoff drivers, it is hard to overlook a strong night for Erik Jones and Richard Petty Motorsports. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images)

While most of the storylines surrounded the playoff drivers, it is hard to overlook a strong night for Erik Jones and Richard Petty Motorsports. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images)

This is the fourth top-10 of the year for Jones, who also earned a top-10 finish in the spring race at Bristol Dirt.

Survive And Advance

William Byron held the final transfer spot during the final laps at Bristol and survived a wild night under the lights in Thunder Valley to advance to the Round of 12.

“Honestly, I don’t think I breathed for 100 laps,” Byron said.

“I was honestly just trying to go as hard as I could. I mean, I don’t know. I had the best seat in the house for the leaders getting together. I was just trying to make as much speed as I could.”

William Byron earned a hard-fought third-place result to fend off an early playoff exit. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

William Byron earned a hard-fought third-place result to fend off an early playoff exit. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell were eliminated from playoff contention.

Round of 12

The Round of 12 gets underway next Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, kicking off a wildcard round that includes Talladega Superspeedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

Coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas begins on Sunday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Bass Pro Shops Bristol Night Race Top-10 Results: Larson, Harvick, Byron, Blaney, Bowman, Keselowski, Truex Jr., Jones, Hamlin, DiBenedetto.

Kobe Lambeth

My name is Kobe Lambeth and I am a recent graduate of UNC Charlotte. I received my undergraduate degree in Communication Studies (mass media concentration), with a double minor in Journalism and American Studies. Since 2007, I have developed a strong passion for motorsports. My childhood dream is to work in the motorsports industry for a long time.

In June 2017, my journey began as a freelance journalist and social media specialist for RockinghamNow, covering high school sports and leading a Twitter project. We wanted to provide expanded coverage of high school football throughout the local community. With the use of Twitter, we had a goal of significantly increasing the number of followers on multiple accounts.

At The Podium Finish, my goal is to provide professional motorsports coverage, focusing on series such as NASCAR, IndyCar and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. I'm also the Multimedia Producer at GRID Network.

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