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The Top Rivalries Between 'Race For The Championship' Drivers

With so much at stake each week, it's easy to see where rivalries develop among "Race For The Championship" drivers.

By Tyler McCarthy

The drivers on “Race For The Championship” compete in high-stakes, life-or-death races every weekend against each other. So, naturally, rivalries tend to form and play out for all of the world to see once things get tense. 

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Whether it’s triggering accidents and ruining someone’s chances for higher placement or just rubbing someone the wrong way when it comes to their media personas, there’s a lot of room for these drivers to develop tiffs with each other. That’s especially true for those who compete in NASCAR’s premier Cup Series, where bragging rights and history are on the line.

As “Race For The Championship” continues to showcase the ins and outs of life on the track for these drivers, we thought we’d run through just some of the rivalries that developed going into the 2022 Cup Series season. 

Kyle Larson & Chase Elliott

Split image of Rivals Elliot and Larson

Despite being teammates, these two are standing in each other’s way when it comes to earning second Cup Series wins.

Elliott took home the championship in 2020 and narrowly lost to Larson in 2021. Although they compete together for Hendrick Motorsports, as anyone in professional driving will tell you, there’s only room for one in Victory Lane. So, they can support each other and their team all the live long day, but when it comes time to win the big prize, they’re both on their own and will likely spend the season trading positions for that sweet, sweet second win. 

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In fact, they already caused some minor friction on the team when Larson made a controversial and not particularly team-friendly move against Elliott at The Glen in August that resulted in him winning the race but bumping Elliott down to fourth position. 

Ross Chastain & Denny Hamlin

Split image of Rivals Chastain and Hamlin

OK, if we’re being honest, there are few drivers on the track who don’t have some kind of axe to grind when it comes to the Watermelon Man, Ross Chastain. In this season alone, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson and more have had dust-ups with the driver, who has a reputation for being a bit aggressive and high-risk on the track. 

However, in the 2022 Cup Series season, his run-ins with Denny Hamlin stand out. According to NASCAR, things started at the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, when Chastain tried to get around Hamlin for multiple laps. This led to contact that damaged Hamlin enough to keep him out of contention for winning. So, Hamlin dedicated the rest of the race to be a thorn in Chastain’s side. 

Fast forward to Atlanta Motor Speedway in July, the two swapped paint again when a damaged Chastain took a risk that resulted in Hamlin spinning out with just 14 laps to go. Two weeks later, Hamlin got his revenge at the Pocono Raceway. When Hamlin overran the corner, he used Chastain as a break, which put him into the wall and sent him spinning out and ultimately crashing down the backstretch. It was likely hard fo Hamlin to drum up sympathy after the past two collisions between the duo on the track. 

Kyle Busch & Brad Keselowski

Split image of rivals Keselowski and Busch

According to FanBuzz, these two drivers have shared a rivalry since the early 2010s. It ignite sporadically and remained relatively quiet in recent years as both drivers took some time out upset other drivers on the field.

However, it reared its ugly head again last year when they were dueling for second place at Martinsville when they collided spinning out Busch’s No. 18 Toyota. After the race, Busch had some choice words for Keselowski that landed him in some hot water. 

After the race, Busch mocked his fellow driver for taking such a risk just for second place. He said that his instinct was to “beat the sh** out of him.” But, what ultimately got Busch a slap on the wrist from the organization was his use of the “r-word” as a slur toward the mentally handicapped.

Catch “Race For The Championship” every Thursday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on USA Network. Meanwhile, you can catch more NASCAR content on Peacock right now.