Taking four new tires on his final stop, Chastain nearly ran down eventual winner Martin Truex Jr. – who took two – over the final seven laps but came up just short in Monday’s rain-delayed race at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway.
While Chastain’s back-and-forth battles for the lead first with William Byron and then Truex left the outcome in doubt, Chastain again found himself the target of criticism for an early-move incident that ruined the races of Brennan Poole and Kyle Larson.
As Chastain was racing to the front in the first stage, he plowed into the back of the lapped car of Poole on Lap 81 of 400. On the replay, it showed Poole may have slowed some with then-leader Byron ahead of him.
Poole’s No. 51 Ford shot up the track from the contact and into the path of Larson, who was among the fastest cars on the track at the time.
Poole’s race was immediately over while Larson went to the garage for repairs. He returned to the track and finished 32nd.
Poole said he didn’t have a lot of room to maneuver as he was racing Austin Dillon for position on the track at the time.
“There’s nothing more that I could do in the situation. I haven’t really seen the replay, but it felt like I just got ran over really for no reason 80 laps into the race.
“Doesn’t make any sense to me. I guess that’s something he’s been known to do here recently. Probably needs to get his butt whooped.”
Interviewed by his car after the race, Chastain immediately offered an apology.
“First, I want to say so sorry to Brennan Poole and everybody at Rick Ware Racing. I owe them a big apology and a bit more,” he said. “I’ll head over (to their shop) tomorrow and talk to those guys and try to make some of that right.”
Before going to the garage for repairs, Larson queried his crew of his radio, “Ross flat-out wrecked the lapper, right?” The reply was, “Yes, for no reason.”
After the race, Larson said he didn’t know why Chastain was in such a hurt to get by Poole.
“I was coming fast and my car was super-good there and it seemed like Ross kind of got in a hurry there. I don’t know if he was frustrated with (Poole) or got in a hurry and made a mistake but crashed him before we even got to the corner,” Larson said.
“I was committed to the top, (Poole) slid up and there was nowhere for me to go. I just hope our luck turns around. We have the fastest car every damn weekend and it doesn’t seem to work out.”
Over the last two seasons, Chastain has had to deal with the ramifications of run-ins with Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and others as he embarked on his most successful Cup opportunity with Trackhouse Racing.
Late in the race, Chastain had a prime opportunity to pick up his third career win but lost a couple spots after taking four fresh tires during the final stop.
“Whoever got in the lead was going to have a shot at it,” he said of the final restart. “We were just so close again for our No. 1 team and everybody at Trackhouse Racing.
“It’s surreal to continue to do this and get to race against my heroes. I guess I told him (Martin Truex Jr.) too many of my secrets last year after we went fishing.”