The majority of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season was free of major controversy, with drivers more or less staying out of each other’s way and not making enemies. But everything changed once the playoffs began. Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick tangled on track in the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway and then got up in each other’s faces on pit road after the checkered flag waved. The two former champions collided again a few weeks later on the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford sending Elliott’s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for a spin.
Harvick later admitted to wrecking Elliott intentionally as payback for what Elliott had done to him at Bristol, and it was only after NASCAR threatened both drivers with major consequences if they continued to feud that Elliott and Harvick essentially called a truce in the final month of the season. However, just as things began to settle down between Elliott and Harvick, business picked up between Denny Hamlin and Alex Bowman in the season’s penultimate race at Martinsville Speedway. Battling for the lead in the final laps at the Virginia short track, Bowman — a non-playoff driver — washed up into championship-contending Hamlin, sending Hamlin’s race-leading No. 11 Toyota spinning and ruining the veteran driver’s shot at a victory.
Hamlin, who qualified for the Championship 4 in spite of the accident, later called Bowman “a hack” and expressed his anger by interrupting the Hendrick Motorsports driver’s post-race celebration. As this was happening, Kyle Busch took verbal shots at Brad Keselowski during an interview on pit road after those two drivers banged together racing for second on the final lap.
Clearly, some drivers won’t be sending each other Christmas cards this year.