NASCAR team owner Justin Marks called Denny Hamlin and Rick Hendrick after St. Louis; Driver Ross Chastain has accepted his role as ‘The Topic’
Ross Chastain has always been an aggressive driver. However, as he competes for wins at the highest level of stock car racing, you’ve taken notice.
Back in 2008, Ross Chastain and Kevin Harvick crashed at Darlington Raceway while racing for the lead. After the initial contact, Chastain hooked Harvick down the back stretch.
Fast forward to today, 29-year-old Chastain has fought his way to the highest level of the sport. And recently, has been regularly involved in contact while battling for position. Most notably at WWT Raceway as Hamlin retaliated by blocking Chastain for multiple laps.
Ross Chastain reflects on on-track incidents
“They’re in my head all the time and trying to kind of balance that is a challenge,” Ross Chastain told NASCAR of recent on-track incidents.
“Unfortunately, there’s been a few instances in the last month or so where the thought has come too late or I didn’t do a good enough job to see it through. So yeah, I look back at some of the moves that I make and stuff and I’m like damn it, I can be better in those instances. So it’s a work in progress.”
Chastain drives for Trackhouse Racing. In 2021, the team made their debut. Chastain signed with the team for the 2022 season driving the No. 1 car.
Now, the Next Gen car has leveled the playing field and Trackhouse Racing has found their way to the top. They’ve dominated road courses so far this year as the team won at Circuit of the Americas and Sonoma.
“Like if I can just clean up that kind of stuff, you know, just race with a little cooler head in the car where I can still — I still want to pass these guys, I still want to pass the cars in front of me, but let’s do it a little bit better way,” Chastain says.
Ross Chastain comments on being boo’d
“You know, I’m all for … being you know, the show sometimes, and I’m good, I’m OK with that. I’ve accepted that, but I probably don’t need to be it every single week.”
“For my liking, there’s been a bit too much attention on me. You know, it’s … most of it’s my own doing.”
After the incident at WWT Racing, Chastain owned the mistakes. He said of possible retaliation from Hamlin, ‘I’ll have to pay for it on the track.”
However, the headlines have cast a spotlight on Chastain. Now, people have an opinion of the driver and on Sunday’s, they voice it. Chastain has noticed a change in the fan reactions during driver intros.
“And I have had those moments where they boo and it catches you off guard. It’s like ‘what, oh. Somebody really doesn’t like me.’ I gotta be honest, though, there’s been a lot more cheers lately, which is, I didn’t know which way this kind of stuff would go. So it’s a lot more cheers lately.”
Ross Chastain is placing his footprint in the sport. He’s won two of 17 races so far this season and finished in the top-10 in eleven of those races.
Trackhouse Racing owner called Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin is the owner of 23XI Racing. Trackhouse Racing owner Justin Marks called Hamlin following the incidents.
“I called him at 3:00 on Monday,” Justin Marks told the Dale Jr Download.
“I said, ‘I don’t necessarily have anything to say right now, I just figured maybe we should be talking to each other.’ “
“He told me how he felt, for about 7-8 minutes, without taking a breath. Which I respect. We had a good conversation and got to a good place. We’re fine.”
“I don’t want to say that I solved his problem with Ross, that’s not really my area to do that. But, he’s a colleague of mine and we’re going to be in the garage area for a long time.”
“It’s communication and mutual respect, not ‘You’re an idiot!’ “
Ross Chastain is finding his way
“Ross is a talent. You know, he’s been here awhile, but he just showed up,” Marks explained.
“It’s that aggressive, fire and hunger that’s going to carry him to the heights of this sport. We’re building a company around that.”
“I remind him when he’s in those moments beating himself up that he’s an elite championship caliber driver. That’s the hard part and the hard part’s done. Now, we need to put the support around him and let him go do his thing.”
“I just let him do his thing. He’s very motivated and understands the opportunity that he’s got. He’s just finding his way. It’s a different economy in the top 5 every week than it is running 20th every week.”
“So, he’s gotta learn Denny, Chase, Joey, Kyle, Martin, all these guys. They’re all different and in different degrees, unhappy to see him there.”
“I told him one time, ‘You’re not necessarily doing anything wrong by going out there and fighting. I mean, you can make some better decisions, in moments. But, the general level of aggression, isn’t wrong. It’s just, you entered a chat that you’re not welcome in.”
“Everybody went through that. But, you can’t be knocking people out of the way every week too.”
Justin Marks also called Rick Hendrick
Denny Hamlin wasn’t the only driver that Ross Chastain got into at WWT Racing. He also spun Chase Elliott. Marks had to mend the fence with Elliott’s car owner.
“I also called Mr. Hendrick on Monday,” Justin Marks added.
“I said, ‘We’re both key partners, we work together on Chevrolet teams.’ Ross had an issue with Chase at St. Louis. That’s one of the things Rick and I talked about was establishing yourself in a way that’s going to ultimately be advantageous when you’re racing for a championship.”
“Because, if you’re just a guy that knocks everyone out of the way, they’ll get tired of it and create problems for your company. But, you gotta be aggressive and you can’t take shit from anybody.”