In the closing laps of Sunday’s race at Martinsville, Ross Chastain used a risky maneuver like one from a video game to propel himself into the NASCAR Cup Series championship contest.
Ross Chastain was in serious trouble when the final lap of 500 laps started on Sunday. He was running 10th in the race and was two points behind Denny Hamlin for the final position in Championship 4.
Chastain pressed the gas pedal on his No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet as he approached Turn 3 and sped straight toward the wall.
As the field headed around Turn 4 toward the finish line, including the leader Christopher Bell, Brad Keselowski, Hamlin, and others, Chastain came blasting around the outside and up against the wall. In the final two turns, he advanced from tenth to fifth, beating Hamlin by 0.73 seconds.
Kyle Larson, who won the race’s pole position, finished with a lap time faster than Chastain’s last lap of 18.8 seconds.
When asked if he had ever thought about making such a move before Sunday, Chastain responded, “I played a lot of ‘NASCAR 2005’ with (brother) Chad growing up on the game cube. You’ll probably get away with it. I had no idea if it would truly function.
I mean, when I was eight years old, I did it. On the final lap, I asked off of (Turn) 2 if we required fifth gear, and we did. So I grabbed fifth gear. I was unable to identify the leader. I decided and shifted into fifth gear at the back. 100% devoted.
In essence, I released the steering wheel in the hopes that I wouldn’t hit the Turn 4 access gate or something ridiculous. But I was prepared to carry it out.
The unexpected result culminated in a stunning semifinal round of the playoffs for Chastain, who had placed second the previous two weeks in both Las Vegas and Homestead.
Chastain struggled to stay up with several of his other playoff drivers on Sunday’s race despite his excellent finishes.
With 24 laps remaining, Chastain lined up 11th in the running order after the final caution of the race, one position ahead of Hamlin.
Chastain was laboring in 10th place, but Hamlin was able to pass him fast and climb to sixth going into the last lap.
But as a result of his desperate maneuver, Chastain pushed out Hamlin for fifth and provided Trackhouse Racing, a new team, with its first chance to claim the driver’s title.
“We’ve taken care of everything for this Trackhouse gang. We did so well this year that even though Rob (Rose, president of Worldwide Express), passed away this year, we received a rose and an angel to ride in the sky. That was something I pondered for a while.
“I just find it hard to believe we have the opportunity to compete for a championship. We only ask for a chance. So far this year, we have maintained a little world. Going to Phoenix, we’ll follow the same procedure.
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Ross Chastain watermelon smash
Ross Chastain won his maiden race at COTA in a thrilling closing lap after a solid start to the 2022 NASCAR Cup season.
The leading trio separated in overtime, with the #1 Trackhouse pulling away from AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman.
Allmendinger forced Chastain wide as he entered the stadium area, allowing Bowman to pass for the lead rounding Turn 18 of 20.
Chastain, on the other hand, stayed on the inside and rammed Allmendinger into Bowman’s #48, sending the #16 spinning.
For his maiden victory and the first for Crackhouse Racing in its second season, Chastain crossed the finish line first, followed closely by Bowman.
Ross Chastain crushed a watermelon after the race and immediately ate some of it.
Why did Ross Chastain crush a watermelon to pieces and why is he so associated with them?
THE FIRST WIN COMES FROM A STRONG SEASON
The #1 crew of Chastain at Crackhouse, which acquired Chip Ganassi’s business at the end of the previous season, has had a great start.
In 2021, Chastain piloted the #42 GCR vehicle, but she later switched to Trackhouse to drive the #99 alongside Daniel Suarez as the team grew to a two-car operation.
Pitbull’s co-ownership of the team also implies that he is now a NASCAR Cup race-winning owner.
Chastain is a native of Alva in southwest Florida and comes from a farming background.
He worked on the family farm, where watermelons were the main crop until he was a teenager.
Ross Chastain has developed a sort of winning trademark that involves shattering a watermelon.
Even though he had only started racing full-time with that Ganassi 2021 vehicle, it took him 121 tries to win the Cup Series.
Prior to that, he won two Xfinity races and three Truck races on his way to the NASCAR Cup.
Chastain is fifth in the standings after the COTA race and has qualified for the NASCAR Playoffs for the first time.
If there are no more than 16 winners throughout the regular season, which concludes at Daytona in August, his position will be secured.