NASCAR Truck bounty: The stakes just got higher for Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott


By Alex Andrejev - The Charlotte Observer



CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Redemption for Chase Elliott could come before Wednesday night’s Cup Series race. The No. 9 driver will face off against Kyle Busch in a Truck event Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

A monetary incentive will accompany personal pride for the race winner, according to Kevin Harvick, who announced Tuesday that the bounty for any full-time Cup Series driver to beat Busch in a Truck race is still in place for Tuesday’s race.

“The bounty is still on for tonight’s @NASCAR — Trucks race,” Harvick tweeted Tuesday morning with an update on the terms.

“However, in the current environment, the $50,000 donation will be made in the name of the cup driver who is eligible and beats @KyleBusch to a covid-19 relief effort of their choice,” Harvick’s tweet continued.

In February, Harvick announced a $50,000 payout for any full-time Cup driver who could beat Busch in a Truck Series race in response to a Twitter comment made by former Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kyle Larson.

After Busch won the lower series Truck race in Las Vegas in February, Larson tweeted three cherry emojis to insinuate Busch was cherry-picking easily winnable races in lower divisions. Former Xfinity team owner Harvick sympathized with Busch, who will represent his Kyle Busch Motorsports team in Tuesday’s race.

Gander RV & Outdoors CEO Marcus Lemonis said he would match Harvick’s amount, bringing the pot to $100,000. On Tuesday, Lemonis said his contribution to the prize pool stands. Gander RV & Outdoors sponsors the Truck series.

Tuesday’s event in Charlotte will be Busch’s sixth race in 10 days. The No. 19 driver has competed in all of NASCAR’s return events at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Busch finished 26th and second, respectively, in last week’s Cup Series races at Darlington, before finishing second in the Xfinity race at the same track.

Last Wednesday, just before the Cup race was called due to inclement weather, Busch tapped Elliott, causing Elliott’s car to spin out from second place and ruin his chances of a top finish. Busch said he did not intentionally wreck Elliott. Elliott said that he accepted the apology, but that he did not regret raising his middle finger to Busch passing by.

“Be kinda hard to fight when you’ve gotta stay 6 feet apart,” Elliott said after the race. “My arms aren’t long enough.”

Elliott will be even more determined to win his first NASCAR race of the season following Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. The sport’s Most Popular Driver lost his lead position in the final laps of the race when a caution was thrown and his team called for him to pit for tires. Elliott finished in third place and was later bumped up to a second after his Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson, who crossed the finish line second, was disqualified for failing post-race inspection.

Meanwhile, Busch finished fourth at the Coke 600 behind race winner Brad Keselowski, and is coming off a win at Monday night’s Xfinity race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch has won 18 different races at Charlotte.

The two-time Cup champion also has the advantage over Elliott in Truck experience. Tuesday will be Elliott’s first Trucks start since 2017, while Busch has won the last seven Truck races he has entered over the past two seasons.

In addition to Elliott, full-time Cup drivers John H. Nemechek and Brennan Poole will be eligible to collect Harvick’s prize money if they beat Busch. Part-time Cup drivers Garrett Smithley and Timmy Hill are also entered in the race.

But following the events of the last week, Elliott is the driver with the most motivating him. When asked Thursday about the bounty, Elliott said he wanted to beat Busch regardless of the money.

“I’m still planning on racing,” Elliott said. “Planning on still running and trying to go beat Kyle.”

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By Alex Andrejev

The Charlotte Observer

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