Sunday is the 64th running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, one of the crown jewels on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. There are plenty of storylines that the series will bring to town with them this weekend including one of the most polarizing drivers in recent memory.
Trackhouse driver Ross Chastain has been one of the biggest talking points in the sport for the better part of the last year and things hit a boiling point a few weeks ago in Kansas. Cup Series rookie Noah Gragson took exception to the way Chastain raced him in Turn 4 late in the race and got in his face after the race on pit road. After a few second of conversation Gragson grabbed ahold of Chastain right lapel and started shoving him which led to warnings from Chastain to stop. When Gragson refused, Chastain hit him in the face with a right hook which led to pushing and shoving that was immediately broken up by team members and NASCAR officials.
Neither driver received any penalties for this incident, but this is far from the first time that Chastain has had run ins on the track this season. Just a few weeks prior to Kansas debacle, he turned Noah Gragson into the wall at Talladega when he tried to force his way in between the #42 car and another driver. Earlier in the season, Christopher Bell placed the blame on him and called him the “wrecking ball” for a wreck at Richmond that turned around William Byron.
In recent weeks, his newest enemy has become the defending series champion, Kyle Larson. At Dover, Chastain ran into the back of lap car Brennan Poole who eventually went up the track and collected Larson, ending both drivers’ day. Two weeks later, he would have a run in with Larson again, this time at Darlington as he squeezed the #5 car up against the wall eventually leading to his car getting turned, ending both driver’s hopes of winning the race with six laps to go.
There is no doubt that Chastain is an aggressive driver, but as NASCAR on FOX reporter Bob Pockrass said this morning on the Mac & Bone Show, it’s about picking you moments of when to let that aggression out. “The hard part for Ross is that he hasn’t won in more than a year and when you have fast cars, you have to take advantage of those opportunities. That’s what he’s not doing. From a racing standpoint you love it, but from a results standpoint, you don’t.”
Chastain will end Sunday’s race on a 39-race winless streak dating back to last year’s April race at Talladega Superspeedway. Last year, he led 153 laps in the race and finished 11th.
FULL INTERVIEW WITH BOB POCKRASS
Ross Chastain Looks to Silence Critics, Win First Race in Over a Year was originally published on wfnz.com
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