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Chastain Bested by Logano in Closing Laps at Las Vegas

(Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

LAS VEGAS — It’s been since April when Ross Chastain survived a crash at Talladega Superspeedway to win his second race of the season. He’s continued to piece together strong finishes but hasn’t had nearly as many opportunities to race for wins.

In Sunday’s Round of 8 opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Chastain had the race-winning speed he needed.

Chastain qualified for the South Point 400 in 11th and finished Stage 1 there. During the pit cycle under caution, Chastain gained six spots with a quick stop to restart in fifth. After a pair of cautions early in the second stage, Chastain took the lead on Lap 108 and held it for 21 laps. He went on to finish Stage 2 in fourth, but he was by no means done.

With 70 laps to go, Chastain took the lead under yellow after another quick stop from his team. He held it 33 laps until the next caution, when Justin Haley took the lead after a two-tire stop.

On a restart with 16 laps to go, Chastain make an agressive move to pass Haley and Chase Briscoe to re-take the lead. He started to drive away, but Joey Logano lurked and quickly ran him down.

With six laps to go, Chastain switched from offense to defense. He needed to do everything he could to keep Logano, who had fresher tires, behind him. A win would have been bigger than his third of the season — it would’ve punched his ticket into the Championship 4 in Phoenix.

Instead, the only thing punched was his gut. Logano cleared him on exit of Turn 2 with three laps to go and drove away to win and secure the first championship spot.

For Chastain, it’s a dissapointing finish to what seemed promising just laps earlier.

(Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

“We got the lead and did everything we could for our No. 1 Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevy. It was all we could do,” Chastain said. “It hurts, right? It hurts to lose like that with just a few laps to go to fresher tires. It’s so good to be driving these Trackhouse Racing Chevy’s for everybody at AdventHealth, Moose Fraternity, Jockey and Worldwide Express. To keep bringing this kind of speed in the playoffs is a dream come true.”

Logano had praise for Chastain after the race, but understood what Chastain could’ve been willing to do to win.

“Ross and I have a great relationship. I’ve talked with him a lot. We have a mutual understanding of how each other races,” Logano said. “My thoughts were, I need to make sure I am 100 percent positive that when I break the plane of his bumper I am going to pass him and don’t give him a chance to door bang me down the straightaways or do anything because I knew what was on the line. People are willing to do a lot of things when they’re desperate, and when it’s a chance like that, that’s what the playoff does. The Playoffs test your character all the way through.”

Despite a runner-up, Chastain improved to second in points and sits 18 points above the cutline.

Chastain will look to punch his ticket into the championship race on Oct. 23 in the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Nathan Solomon is a junior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. He serves as editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, The Bona Venture, and as the sports director for the campus radio station, WSBU 88.3 FM. Solomon started his journalism career in 2018 when he began covering hometown Cornell basketball for IvyHoopsOnline. In 2019, Solomon joined Empire Sports Media to contribute baseball content, and he started covering NASCAR for the outlet in 2020. In 2021, he covered his first two NASCAR races with Empire Sports Media. Solomon joined TPF in September of 2021 and became managing editor in the spring of 2022. He is recognized as an NMPA journalist. You may reach out to Nathan anytime at NSolly02@Yahoo.com.

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