No hard feelings for Ross Chastain after early exit at Talladega puts him at bottom of Playoff standings

Ross Chastain went from a hero to a zero in less than a lap Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

The Trackhouse Racing driver came into Talladega relatively secure in the points in sixth place after a strong second place finish a week prior at Texas.

Sunday he was making a charge towards the front looking for stage points on lap 60, the final lap of Stage 1 when just ahead of him Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who was leading ran out of fuel and slowed; Kyle Busch just behind him was forced into the outside wall entering Turn 3. He then shot down and clipped the front of Chastain’s Chevy sending Chastain spinning and into the outside wall.

The damage was too much, and Chastain was the first car out, just his second DNF of the season.

“It’s just the way it goes. Nothing personal with it,” he said. “I don’t take any of this personally here (Talladega Superspeedway). I could have stayed on the bottom a few laps earlier probably and would have been safer. I just had a couple of cars land in my lap there and I went for the gap. Obviously, I wish I would have lifted now, but I’ll study that and be better next time.

“I just saw someone slow and tagging the fence, and obviously with them being that much slower, I should have just stayed in behind him. Four-wide wasn’t the right call. I saw a hole and just tried to slide through there. I wish I wouldn’t have.”

Chastain struggled a bit in qualifying on Saturday and had to settle for a starting spot of 32. That led him to a strategy of running near the back of the back Sunday.

“Yeah, when they were three-wide early, it just didn’t make sense to get up there and get in line,” he said. “Eighth in line, three-wide, we would have been in the mid-20s. It felt comfortable – we saved some fuel and cycled ourselves up there to fight for some stage points.”

Chastain, who finished second in the championship last season, will head to the Charlotte ROVAL, the final race in the Round of 12, needing a win, or another miracle if he hopes to have a chance to make it back to the Final 4 this season.

“Lefts and rights, and living my dreams,” he said smiling. “Whatever our team brings next week, we’ll put our best foot forward. As long as I’m getting to drive these rocketships that Trackhouse Racing brings me, I’m living my dream and we’ll keep fighting.”


Greg Engle