Taladega, Alabama (AP)
Ross Chastain reviewed his situation on the last lap on the Talladega Superspeedway and decided that his best strategy was to stay put and not take a step to win.
This led him to a victorious path.
Chastain stole the victory on Sunday when leader Eric Jones went out of his way to defensively block reigning NASCAR champion Kyle Larsson. This cleared the lane for Chastain, who steered his Chevrolet straight, slipped past Jones and won his second career Cup victory.
“Holy cow! We didn’t do anything! We just stayed downstairs!” Chastain shouted on the radio.
On the last lap Jones led the race and he knew Larson would take a step towards victory. Larson waited until they came out of the last turn, and looking back, Jones said he needed to let him go and stay on the bumper with Chastain.
“Looking back, I wanted to stay at the bottom and let (Chastain) push me,” Jones said. “This is what there is. You are trying to just win the race. How much is happening can only be seen from the seat. You are trying to make the best decision for the last 1,500 feet. ”
Chastain, who got his first career Cup victory last month on the American Highway track, won for the second time in five races. It was his first on a superspeedway where he said he was usually a driver who makes the wrong moves.
“I always go to the top early and make a mistake, and at the end there are eight left and I thought,‘ I’m not going there anymore, ’” Chastain said. “I did it a few times and thought,‘ I’m just going to the bottom. I’m not going to lose the race for us. “
“I have no idea. They just kept going up. They just walked away from the road. “
An eighth-generation watermelon farmer from Florida climbed out of his winning track, TrackHouse Racing, through open roofs – like a hatch – and smashed a watermelon from Chevy’s roof as a holiday.
Chastain also took a bite of a slice of watermelon, which he picked up from the ground, but this time asked Fox Sports if the seeds were stuck in his beard. After winning in Texas last month, he did all of his live TV interviews with a little watermelon peel on his face.
Chastain and William Byron are the only multiple race winners in 10 Cup competitions – a quarter of the season. He is firmly in the playoffs with TrackHouse, a second-year team owned by former racer Justin Marx and Pitbull.
Chastain in his first season with TrackHouse never imagined such success from the gate.
“Are you kidding? I broke myself so many times and got involved with guys, ”Chastain said. “Justin Marx and what he laid out for us was ambitious. I had no idea what to expect other than that I knew I had a band from last year. (Sponsors) believe in us. We started the year with a lot of open races (for funding). Now we are almost filled, and that is because of Justin Marx’s vision.
“We won, dude!”
Austin Dylan finished second at Richard Childress Racing in the midst of 1-2 for Chevrolet, and Kyle Bush was third at Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Larson finished fourth at Hendrick Motorsports, followed by JGR driver Martin Trueks Jr. and finally Jones, who fell as far as sixth, trying to retain the win. Michael McDowell, who finished eighth, became the most finishing Ford.
“It is typical here. Been here so many times, ”Jones said.
Larson was just as disappointed, believing that on Sunday he fought for the first time to win the superspeedway.
“Honestly, the first time I had a legitimate chance to win a cup race, I’m very happy about that,” Larson said. “But when you’re so close – and I was in exactly the position I wanted to be, I didn’t want to be a leader – I feel like I did a good job with patience and more. I just made one small mistake there, and it cost me one. ”
Roger Penske was on the track looking for Team Penske’s second victory on the superspeed this season, but saw that three of his cars were assembled in one crash.
Joey Lagana was in the third row during the restart in the second stage and didn’t even pick up full speed when Buba Wallace knocked him off the line and into the outside wall. Logan’s car then crashed into the field, and teammates Austin Sindrick, winner of the Daytona 500, and Harrison Burton, who runs the Penske branch of The Wood Brothers, were among those involved in the crash with 8 cars.
The crash actually brought together five of Ford’s 16 drivers in the race, and the previous crash knocked out two more when Chase Briscoe and Chris Buscher were eliminated. Ford was the most organized manufacturer at the opening of the Daytona 500 season and used its strategy to bring Cindric to victory.
It was the third time in the last four races in Toladega that Lagana had crashed and it was his first DNF of the season.
“You are being pushed from behind. You push the car forward. There was nothing you could do about it, and I was expelled, ”Logan said. “It stinks. This is Toladega. I don’t know, some like it. I can’t say what I’m doing. “
The Cup Series race next Sunday at Dover International Speedway in Delaware. Alex Bowman is the defensive winner of the race.
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