Chastain keeps it clean to win at ‘Dega

NASCAR EchoPark Grand Prix of the Americas, Ross Chastain, Trackhouse Racing, 27/03/2022, Images and Copyright Nick Hrehor

“Holy cow, we didn’t do anything!’’ 

Talladega Superspeedway has a way of choosing its victor, and the spring 2022 race was no exception. The track is home to the infamous “Big One” – a common multi-car, field destroying crash – and strangely enough, she waited until the last 1/3rd of a mile to rear her head in anger as Ross Chastain emerged victor as the carnage ensued behind him for the 2nd time in his career. Last lap wins seem to be a common theme in 2022, with Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, and now Ross Chastain all stealing wins in the closing laps.

Chastain overcame early struggles and at one point was a lap down to the leaders, but thanks to well times positioning and cautions, he was able to gain his place back on the lead lap and was in 3rd place entering the tri-oval on the final lap. Second place Kyle Larson made his move on leader Erik Jones, putting his number 5 machine into the outside line, forcing Jones to cover. Chastain kept his number 1 machine on the inside line and stayed low as cars spun and wrecked behind him, taking the win by a scant 0.105 seconds over eventual 2nd place finisher, RCR’s Austin Dillon in the number 3 Chevrolet.

Staying low was Chastain’s game for the whole race:

“I’m always the one going to the top too early and making the mistake and there at the end, with like eight (laps) to go I was like ‘I’m not going up there again, I did that a couple times today. I was like, I’ll just drive the bottom, I’m not going to lose the race for us. They just kept going up and moving out of the way.”

Bristol winner Kyle Busch brought his Toyota home in 3rd place, making him the highest finishing car other than a Chevrolet and Kyle Larson finished behind him in 4th place. Martin Truex Jr. brough his 19 machine home in 5th place, also taking the low-line to safety.

Rounding out the top 10 after the carnage was Erik Jones in 6th, narrowly missing out on what would have been the 200th victory in NASCAR history for the 43 machine, a number that “The King”, Richard Petty, took to victory lane an astounding 192 times under.  Chase Elliot brough his NAPA machine home in a solid 7th place finish that extends his points lead in the regular season championship. The Dawsonville, GA native is still searching for his first win of 2022, extending a winless drought 26 races back to the Road America event in 2021. Eight place went to Michael McDowell followed by Alex Bowman in Ninth, and in 10th position was Kevin Harvick. In total, 6 of the top 10 cars were Chevrolets – a stark contrast to the last Superspeedway race in Daytona where the highest finishing driver was Chase Elliott in 10th place.

Related Link: GEICO 500 Results

Versatility in action

Chastain is now only the second 2-time winner in 2022, however he is the only driver to do it in the same car both times. After the race, Trackhouse Racing revealed that the winning ride was the same car that took them to victory lane at Circuit of the America’s in March, showing just how versatile the new Next-Gen platform is. With the introduction of the more modular system, teams like Trackhouse are showing that the reusable nature of the chassis will make cars easier to convert from spec to spec depending on the track and conditions. It will be interesting to see how other teams leverage this information for their own benefit, especially as the Chevrolet camp seems to be grasping the new chassis and how it is affected each week more effectively thank Toyota and Ford.

The Monster Mile

NASCAR heads north to Dover, Delaware for the only visit of the year to the famous “Monster Mile”. Coined in the seventies for the tracks’ abusive nature towards cars, equipment, and teams, the concrete circuit never fails to produce an exciting race. With it’s steep banked straights and tight turns, Dover is one fo the fastest mile-tracks in the United States.

2021 winner Alex Bowman will look to be a contender, as well as anyone with a bow tie on their hood. However, much like Talladega, Dover has a way of choosing the winner and at this point in the season, it’s anyone’s race to lose.

Raceday begins on FOX at 3:oopm ET (US), Sunday May 1st.