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NASCAR Cup Series

Dominant Afternoon Ends in Third-Place Finish for Chastain

(Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

FONTANA, Calif. — Ross Chastain had the dominant car Sunday afternoon at Auto Club Speedway, leading a race-high 92 laps. But Kyle Busch found a new gear in the final run of the race, driving away from Chastain and relegating the driver of the No. 1 for Trackhouse Racing to a third-place finish in the Pala Casino 400.

After starting eighth, Chastain quickly drove to the front and led off pit road during the competition caution pitstop on Lap 17. He led for most of the race, including at the ends of each stage for 20 total points and two Playoff points.

After a caution for the stalled Ty Dillon machine, the race restarted on Lap 145. Teams needed to make at least one more pit stop. Chastain led, but Busch, who spent many laps recovering from a pit road penalty, was within striking distance. Busch briefly took a lead on Lap 166 before the two cars pitted at the exact same time later that lap.

Chastain tried to make up time on pit entrance, but Busch had a quicker stop and exited first. Once the pit cycle was completed, Busch had the lead and kept pulling away from Chastain. Busch led the final 21 laps to win his first race with Richard Childress Racing.

“Our balance was building loose most of the day, so I thought we did everything right,” Chastain told FOX. “It would just feel pretty loose late in the runs, and at times it was enough, and at times [Busch] got way better. I felt like we were the steady force, our Kubota Chevy was.”

Although Chastain fell short, he earned 54 points, the most of any driver Sunday. He took a one-point lead in driver’s points over 2022 series champion Joey Logano.

Chastain’s two stage wins add to three on the season after winning a stage in the Daytona 500. He’s one of four drivers with top-10 finishes in both points-paying races.

Chastain started last season with finishes of 40th and 29th, so his start in 2023 is a welcomed improvement.

“To start off this year the way we have is a total 180 from last year when it was not like this,” Chastain said. “As much as it stings, as much as it does hurt, hats off to Chevrolet for [the] top four [finishes] there, and pumped to be in this position with Trackhouse, and for our first crack at the big tracks here, it’s all we can ask for.”

Teammate Daniel Suarez finished behind Chastain in fourth, earning a pair of top-five finishes in each stage.

The Trackhouse Racing duo is off to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next weekend for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube. The race is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.


Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

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