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Why Chase Elliott Wasn’t Too Happy With Teammate Kyle Larson at Kansas
It’s not the first time the Hendrick Motorsports wheelmen have locked horns.
When you have multiple superstars under one team banner, you have multiple egos, so it’s not unheard of for spontaneous conflicts to bubble up. While Rick Hendrick signs checks for both Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott at Hendrick Motorsports, when you want to win badly, that can periodically breed issues.
For Elliott and Larson — two of the brightest stars in the NASCAR Cup Series who’ve both tasted success of the highest caliber — Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 playoffs race at Kansas Speedway was one of those times fans got a look at fireworks between teammates.
What happened between Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott at Kansas?
Faster than most of the field, Larson led a race-best 99 laps, but a second stage gamble of trying to stay out with old tires while several drivers pitted with about 35 laps to go was a costly strategy. Ultimately, Larson would have to take a late pit stop, but he wasn't the only one. Brad Keselowski in the No. 6 Ford Mustang for RFK Racing was exiting with Larson and Elliott, bunching the group together in a three-wide effort. Larson tried to evade Elliott in the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro, but there was no lane, and Yung Money ended up scraping into Elliott’s driver-side door. Then, while the race was under caution, Elliott, who seemingly thought Larson’s initial contact was intentional, clanged doors with Larson in retaliation.
What has Kyle Larson said about his Hollywood Casino 400 incident with Chase Elliott?
After the race, in which Larson finished fourth, he addressed the pit road contact. "From my vantage point, I knew we were three-wide leaving,” Larson said. “At the time, the six [Keselowski] was pitted in front of us, and I’m trying to leave as much space as a I can. He’s coming out in the lane quickly because the six wants to slow us down. I tried to leave as much space as I could. Obviously, I made contact with him [Elliott], but I felt like if I didn’t, I was going to clobber the six right in the right-front, and I thought the safest bet for all of us was for me to squeeze out a little bit.”
“I understand why he’s mad or was in the moment,” Larson added. “I hope when he sees the replay, he understands that I didn’t have any space or not much, just inches. Just a bummer, but I’m glad neither of us got tore up, and we could get a good finish.”
What has Chase Elliott said about his Kansas Speedway incident with Kyle Larson?
Despite the bumping on pit row and then his apparent retaliation, Elliott raced well during the Hollywood Casino 400. NASCAR’s most popular driver for five consecutive years running finished sixth after leading 47 laps in the race.
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"Our car was really solid," Elliott told FOX Sports. "We were in the mix, I thought, to have a solid day. We passed Brad [Keselowski] for third, and that is probably where we were going to finish. ... We were as close as we've been."
Still, the question on everyone’s mind after the race was about his incident with Larson. When asked by FOX Sports if he was trying to send a message to Larson, Elliott responded: "That was no message ... No, no, no [problem].”
Did Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have any prior incidents before the one at Kansas Speedway?
The two Cup Series champs have had a series of altercations in the past. During last year’s event at Watkins Glen, Larson made an aggressive maneuver that bumped Elliott out of the way, allowing Larson to take the checkered flag. After the victory, Larson addressed the contact. “One thing is for sure, we all like to win,” Larson stated at the time after knocking Elliott out of his way at Watkins Glenn. “We try really hard to do that. In the end, I probably should have a little more respect next time.”