Videos by OutKick
Where should we start? NASCAR champ Chase Elliott finishing dead last at Darlington? Kyle Busch losing in the worst way possible? Dawn Staley driving the pace car? Erik Jones putting Richard Petty back in Victory Lane ? Or, perhaps, Kevin Harvick literally going up in flames and then taking a blowtorch to the sport?
Yeah, let’s go with that last one.
“We didn’t touch a car and here we are in the pits with a burned up car and we can’t finish the race during the playoffs because of crappy ass parts,” he said moments after the No. 4 Busch Light Ford looked like my grill five minutes after I dropped a Tomahawk steak.
“What a disaster for no reason.”
Please, Kevin … don’t hold back!
Darlington – the Southern 500, to be exact – delivered once again Sunday night, going head-to-head with that beautiful LSU-FSU bout (you good, Brian?) and giving us as much, if not more, drama.
OK … that’s probably not true – tough to compete with 90 seconds that included a fumble, 99-yard drive, and blocked extra-point to win the game.
That being said, if you wanted flames, heartbreak, and nostalgia, this NASCAR playoff opener was right down your alley.
Four tires and fuel, baby …. Your Labor Day edition of Monday Morning Pit-Stop is ready for battle.
Kevin Harvick accuses NASCAR of bad parts
All right. We have to start with Kevin Harvick, right?
NASCAR’s Elder statesman nearly got fried late in Sunday’s race after his car suddenly burst into flames, and he had no interest in being politically correct about the situation.
Around these parts, of course, we LOVE that.
“I’m sure it’s just crappy parts on the race car like we’ve seen so many times,” he said after the incident. “They haven’t fixed anything. It’s kind of like the safety stuff. We just let it keep going and keep going. The car started burning and as it burned the flames started coming through the dash.
“I ran a couple laps and then as the flame got bigger it started burning stuff up … I just stopped because I couldn’t see anymore because the flames were coming through the dash and I couldn’t make myself sit in there and burn up.”
— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) September 5, 2022
Can’t argue with that!
There are a handful of drivers in the garage who can throw around those sort of accusations and get away with them – Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott (although he never would) and Kyle Larson come to mind.
Kevin Harvick, 46, is at the top of that list.
He’s a former Cup champion, has been in the sport for over two decades, and is usually pretty spot-on with this sort of thing. If he’s pissed, there’s usually a good reason, and my guess is NASCAR will take a good hard look at what happened Sunday.
Doesn’t mean they won’t call Kevin to the big red hauler, though, for a little 1-on-1 time.
NASCAR champ Chase Elliott in trouble after Darlington
Harvick wasn’t the only one who had his playoff hopes go up in smoke at Darlington.
Chase Elliott, who used a dominant summer to lock up the regular season championship, was horrible all weekend. The No. 9 team qualified poorly, started the race poorly, and, ultimately, dug themselves into an unnecessary hole.
Elliott finished dead last after an early wreck, and now sits just 14 points above the playoff cutline going into Kansas.
A frustrated Clyde reportedly had NO interest in the mandatory trip to the infield care center, either.
We were being told Chase Elliott had refused to come to the care center.
He’s now showed up as it’s mandatory for any driver out on DVP.
Not sure we’ll get much from him as he’s obviously frustrated.
— Noah Lewis (NASCAR) (@Noah_Lewis1) September 5, 2022
When asked how he plans to approach these next two races, Elliott went with the tried-and-true Kyle Busch approach.
“Run better than we did today,” he told MRN after being dragged to the care center.
Look, Chase will most likely be fine. Kansas and Bristol are two of his better tracks, and he can still point his way into the second round of the playoffs pretty easily.
Still, it wasn’t a great start for the regular season champ, and certainly something to watch going forward.
Kyle Busch can’t catch at break at Darlington
Oh, you thought Chase and Harvick had a rough night? Kyle Busch would like a word.
Rowdy had the (second) best car all race, only to blow an engine while leading with 20 laps to go …
… UNDER CAUTION!
Yep. Busch’s No. 18 Toyota blew up under caution while he was leading late in Sunday’s race. He certainly appeared to be on his way to an easy win, an automatic bye into the second round of the playoffs, and some much-needed momentum after a summer full of contract speculation.
Instead, the motor called it quits with a handful of laps left, handing the lead, and the win, to Erik Jones.
“Just unfortunate circumstances for us tonight,” a surprisingly subdued Busch said after the race. “All the stuff the guys have done and gone through – just all the news and everything that’s going on all year – they’ve dug in and never given up and continue. Just had a great car and don’t have anything to show for it. That’s what I really, really hate about it.
“The sun will come up tomorrow.”
Erik Jones puts Richard Petty back in Victory Lane
It certainly will over at Petty Enterprises!
Busch’s flamed out motor handed the lead to Erik Jones, who promptly fired off perfectly at the restart and held off Denny Hamlin over an intense final few laps.
It was Jones’ first win since 2019 … at Darlington. It was also his first win since Joe Gibbs Racing essentially fired him. Think it felt good to beat a Gibbs car?
“I felt like this was the race that saved my job the first time around; and coming back here with this win, I guess it puts you back on the map,” Jones said.
Oh, by the way … Petty also won this race one time – back on Sept. 4, 1967. By math, that’s 55 years to the day.
Dawn Staley, South Carolina coach who canceled BYU game, drives NASCAR pace car
Before we dismiss everyone for the holiday, we kinda-sorta have to talk about the pace car driver – South Carolina women’s coach Dawn Staley.
And that’s only because of what transpired last week.
For those who need a quick refresher, Staley weirdly canceled the Gamecocks’ games against BYU this upcoming season because a Duke volleyball player accused a fan at BYU’s volleyball team of racist remarks.
So yeah, naturally, Dawn Staley – the South Carolina women’s basketball coach – had to cancel games against BYU’s women’s basketball team, right?
By the way, if you’ve read OutKick all all over the past week, you know that the story almost immediately began to unravel.
Basically nobody has verified that anyone said anything racist, the police report said no inappropriate language was heard, and the player’s godmother – the only person who’s essentially backed up her story – has a history of racist rhetoric on her Twitter timeline.
Even after knowing all of that, Staley still went ahead and virtue-signaled like a pro.
Look, I’m sure NASCAR scheduled Staley months ago, so I’m sure this wasn’t any sort of subtle message. Just unfortunate timing.
Or, perhaps, fortunate timing – depending on who you ask, I reckon.