Connect with us

NASCAR Cup Series

Ross Chastain Perseveres With Smashing Win at COTA

Ross Chastain ruled the day at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

Ross Chastain ruled the day at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

AUSTIN, Texas – Ross Chastain may not want to wake up from his dream following Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas.

After all, Chastain pushed through challenging times and rides that sometimes challenged his longterm future in NASCAR. Chastain took chances, believing in himself despite the sometimes difficult odds against him in the top three series.

Time and time again, Chastain, a 29-year-old Alva, Florida native, made believers out of his prior skeptics with a runner up result in the 2019 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship battle and a seventh in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in the following year.

Getting the nod as the driver of Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevy in 2021, the mild mannered racer found his stride toward the fall stretch, ultimately nailing three top fives and eight top 10 results. It seemed like Chastain and crew chief Phil Surgen found their stride.

On June 30, 2021, Chastain’s future seemed a bit cloudy when Trackhouse Racing acquired the Ganassi’s NASCAR operations and two charters. It was not until Aug. 3 when Chastain’s immediate plans were solidified when Trackhouse Racing named him as the driver of their expanded second team with the No. 1 designation.

Fast forward to Sunday’s sixth round of the 2022 Cup season at the 3.41-mile road course. Sure, Chastain started 16th, but he bided his time in his No. 1 ONX Homes/iFly Chevy Camaro.

Finishing 13th in stage 1 and eighth in stage 2, Chastain mixed it up with some of the best road course racers in Cup like Chase Briscoe, Tyler Reddick and AJ Allmendinger. The quartet dueled as if each lap was the final circuit for the checkered flag, dicing and tactically battling for the lead until one of the wildest final laps in recent Cup history.

Although Chastain had command of the race from laps 47 through 64, he still had the likes of Allmendinger and Reddick in his midst. Reddick led the way on the race’s Overtime restart on lap 67 before Chastain leapt into the lead in the esses.

Chastain did not waste his time capitalizing on his primetime moment. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

Chastain did not waste his time capitalizing on his primetime moment. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

However, it wasn’t all smooth and simple as that. If anything, the lead unofficially changed hands on three occasions.

Allmendinger scooted past Chastain around the stadium section before Bowman asserted himself into the picture by getting past both before Chastain made slight contact with Allmendinger, sending the latter into Bowman. Bowman recovered to place second while Allmendinger was sent into the gravel.

Meanwhile, Chastain dashed and smashed his way to his much anticipated debut Cup win in rather emphatic fashion. After climbing out of his victorious ride, he stood on top of his roof before smashing his watermelon on the asphalt. Following celebrations with his team, Chastain considered the journey he endured leading up to his win and lessons he applied with his win.

“Old tires, scuffs,” Chastain offered. “Yeah, it’s everything. It’s race craft. It’s just laps. I got to the Xfinity Series in 2015, and I didn’t know how to turn right at all, and that was when Justin (Marks) was in the series quite a bit on those tracks. I would go to him. I knew him from the start of my career in 2011 with Stacy Compton, and I just kept racing. I didn’t really have any great success at it, but it was just laps and race craft, and it all came together today.”

Placing behind Chastain were Bowman, Christopher Bell, defending race winner, Chase Elliott, and Reddick.

Beyond the praises he sang for co-owner, Marks, he also reflected on his journey and how he kept his faith during those career, pendulum swings.

Chastain understands and appreciates all of his opportunities leading to his much anticipated first Cup win. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

Chastain understands and appreciates all of his opportunities leading to his much anticipated first Cup win. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

“There were some days there where I didn’t know,” he shared. “Turns out Justin pretty much knew all along. When the sale happened, I texted him. I was at a wheel force test with Chevy and said I want this, and he said I know. Give me some time.

“To me, that time should have been five minutes. I was, like, okay, just respond and say you got the job, but took some days and weeks. We were talking and figuring it out, and this is big business. This is big business racing, and this is a huge industry.

“You don’t just get the ride because you want it. I get that. But I don’t know how I could have ever scripted my career and the people that I met along the way, the people that I hurt along the way, the people that I wronged along the way, but it’s all got me here one way or the other.”

All in all, Chastain’s first Cup win will be talked about for some time considering the obstacles he overcame in his career. Beyond that, despite his tenacious approach, he’s as cool as a fully intact watermelon in the grocery store.

Chastain pulled his best Manic Street Preachers impression. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

Chastain pulled his best Manic Street Preachers impression. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

“Part way through last year, I’ve said it in several interviews, I don’t know why I keep bringing it up, ” Chastain said. “Because it helped me, but Mike Metcalf gave me a book called “It Takes What It Takes.” And it just reset my whole mindset. I didn’t get worked up today when we had the lead.

“I didn’t get too high, and I didn’t get too low whenever we lost the lead to Tyler. It just is what it is. And thank neutral and go get it in the next opportunity.”

Stage 1 Top 10 Finishers

Suarez-Blaney-Bowman-Logano-Larson/Haley-Elliott-Briscoe-Burton-Cindric

Stage 2 Top 10 Finishers

Hamlin-Kyle Busch-Logano-Blaney-Almirola/Austin Dillon-Burton-Chastain-Cindric-Wallace

EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix Top 10 Finishers

Chastain-Bowman-Bell-Elliott-Reddick/Blaney-Truex-Cindric-Jones-Austin Dillon

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in NASCAR Cup Series