Karma and holiday greetings for Kevin Harvick from Chase Elliott; and more Roval musings Featured

Posted On Monday, 11 October 2021 01:14 Written by
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Kyle Larson races to victory Sunday, October 10, 2021, winning the Bank of America Roval 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. Kyle Larson races to victory Sunday, October 10, 2021, winning the Bank of America Roval 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. Photo by Chris Owens/HHP for Chevy Racing

How does NASCAR follow up a historic weekend at Talladega?

With a weekend full of drama at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite tracks in all of NASCAR (The track’s been so much fun since it’s arrival, I honestly feel like sending Marcus Smith a thank-you card for coming up with the idea in the first place).

It was a very newsworthy weekend, both on the track and off. Here are my initial reactions to some of the big news that we got to take in this weekend.

Harvick vs. Elliott

Well, this rivalry certainly came to a head this weekend. After several weeks of openly holding a grudge against Elliott for the way Elliott raced him at Bristol, Harvick acted on those feelings at the Roval, punting Elliott during Sunday’s race. Unfortunately for Happy Harvick, Elliott was able to continue on (despite a flapping bumper cover that should have gotten him black-flagged), eventually securing a place in the next round of the playoffs while Harvick ultimately did not. Harvick’s day, perhaps in a bit of karma, ended when he wrecked himself while Chase was lurking in the background and no doubt ready to give payback. Before he could get there, Harvick froze up and did the job himself. 

After the race, Harvick basically confirmed he had spun Elliott on purpose, but Elliott had the ultimate last wor, saying he wished Harvick a “Merry Offseason and Happy Christmas”. My first thought after hearing the comment was the “Y’all wanna see a dead body?” meme, as Harvick’s got nothing he can say in response.

As a fan, it was great drama, and I’m pretty sure that puts an end to their on-track battles for this year. I don’t expect any more shunts between the two, but you can bet Harvick will do his best to hold up Chase and prevent him from winning the title, if they are ever near each other in the final races.

Either way, whether you like Chase or Harvick or neither one of them, the fans are the ones who are coming out on top here, as we’re seeing genuine rivalries play out in a sport where those are mostly a thing of the past.

Larson, Team Hendrick overcome electrical woes

You have to hand it to Team Hendrick, and especially the Kyle Larson team. Early in the race, they reported alternator issues, and it looked like the driver who had won 6 races in 2021 might not advance in the playoffs. But great teams do great things, and the talented crew members on the 5 team replaced both a battery and an alternator belt, and the race played out in a way that Larson was able to reach the front of the field and claim a 7th 2021 Cup victory. Teammate Alex Bowman also overcame alternator issues to finish in the top 10, but did not advance in the playoffs. Teammate William Byron nearly stole the show with a win, but faded late and did not advance despite his valiant effort.

In the end, two of the Hendrick drivers — Elliott and Larson — did make the final 8, and are both strong contenders for the Cup championship.

Rick Ware Racing aims to compete in 2022

The most shocking news Sunday was that Rick Ware Racing, a weekly backmarker team known mostly for being in the way and spinning at the back of the field with its four cars, wants to step up to respectability. They announced a technical partnership for 2022 with Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Yates Engines.

It’s believed the team will field two full-time cars in 2022, possibly three if they get the proper funding, and that they have spoken with many free-agent drivers including Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Newman.

My thoughts on this news are mixed. On one hand, I applaud any team that is trying to improve, and if anyone needed to improve it’s RWR, which has been a bit of a laughingstock this season, prompting fans to call on them to sell their charters to more competitive teams.

But if they’re going to try and improve, I’m fine with them keeping the charters (though one might end up sold). I’m just not holding out any major hopes of success until I see that it’s possible. This partnership may help, but I don’t see any major gains coming in 2022, and view this as a multi-year project where they slowly rise toward respectability. Time will tell.

Hezeman team to Cup in 2022

Other unexpected news this weekend was that Loris Hezemans, who won the 2019 Whelen Euro NASCAR championship and has run a few Xfinity series races, will compete in multiple Cup races in 2022 —primarily road courses, but possibly some short tracks too.

With its owners in Europe — Hezemans’ father Toine Hezemans and Dutch entrepreneur Ernst Berg — Reaume Brothers Racing will build the cars for the team and manage U.S. operations in the United States.

I think it’s great to see a European-based team showing interest in joining the top level of NASCAR (Hezeman hopes to compete full-time in Cup in 2023), and it’s a good sign of what the Next Gen car may bring in terms of interest from new team owners. There’s even potentially the return to NASCAR tracks of old fan favorite (or not-so-favorite) Jacques Villenueve, who is helping the team compete this week.

Powerhouse teams dominate playoffs

This year’s final 8 teams include 3 Penske drivers (Blaney, Logano and Keselowski), 3 Gibbs drivers (Kyle Busch, Truex, and Hamlin), and 2 Hendrick drivers (Elliott, Larson). No Cinderella story this year (unless you want to count Larson coming back from his suspension to dominate).


Matt Myftiu can be reached on Twitter at @MattMyftiu, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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