Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick: A Brief History of Monetizing NASCAR Rivalries

TehBen.com welcomes Janet Scott to our extended universe to talk some NASCAR. Check out her first article with our friends at MotorMax. Take it away Janet!

By: Janet Scott

Hey there NASCAR fans, and welcome back to another edition of random NASCAR musings by an almost old lady.

Have you heard about Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick fighting after Harvick felt Elliott cost him the win at Bristol? Well, you might have been living under a rock, but does all this sound familiar to you? Me too!

When the incident happened at Bristol, I initially thought, “Shit happens, it’s racing.”

But then, both Chase and Kevin jabbed at each other back and forth not only after the race at Bristol (3 times!) but also in the media, pre-race and post race leading all the way to the Charlotte Roval. A playoff cut race will forever be remembered for these two drivers (and not much else). A seemingly intentional wreck, a controversial caution mired in an admirable comeback, a head on accident into the wall, the Roval had everything! These were the sort of dramatics that NASCAR undoubtedly used to thrive on.

This got me thinking. While it sure seems like these two guys have a real inkling to dislike each other, could there be another force at work?

Who of you is old enough, or been a fan of the sport long enough, to remember just how much Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt “hated” each other? This rivalry was fought in the grandstands just as much as it was on the track, and every fan at the time had some skin in the game. Then as we came to find out years later, they were actually friends. Earnhardt knew how good a rivalry could be for the sport (RE: his past rivalry with Geoff Bodine as promoted by Humpy Wheeler), but also in this era of NASCAR, the loud look of clothing was big and wild and people were clamoring for the merchandise of their preferred driver.

Now you may be asking yourself, “Hey crazy blonde NASCAR lady, why would you think the Elliott/Harvick rivalry is fake or even just trumped up a little bit?”

The answer is simple: “Merry Offseason and a Happy Christmas.” Marketing genius. How many shirts sold off of that one statement given seemingly off the cuff after the Roval incidents? Try to remember, this would have never happened if the parties involved hadn’t continued the “rivalry” over the three weeks from Bristol to Charlotte. At Kansas last week, they were around each other in the top 5 for multiple parts of the race and no issues were had. At Kansas of all places it would be super easy to take the air off the spoiler and turn a competitor without touching them.

Them boys had no issues. Now don’t get me wrong, NASCAR talking to all parties involved after Charlotte may have made an influence on their “destroy or not destroy” decision, but as a 2001 henceforth “Happy” Harvick fan, I fully believe that if he had a vendetta his mission would have continued no matter the cost. Frankly I think Harvick’s last contract extension with Stewart Haas will be just that.

What do you think? Will Harvick cost Chase a chance at the title? I can’t wait for the sparks to fly at Martinsville!

Follow Janet Scott on Twitter for more hot NASCAR takes!

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