Ross Chastain has done a great enough job during the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season that a mistake that could have been extremely costly to his championship aspirations on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, was just a minor inconvenience.
Chastain was pushing too hard late in the race and slapped the wall in the infield section on the ROVAL. It did enough damage that they had to go behind the wall for repairs. He’d finish 9 laps down in 37th.
However, he built up enough of an advantage over the cutline entering the Round of 12 elimination race that his standing into the third round of the playoffs was never truly threatened. With his teammates’ power steering issue, Kyle Larson also getting into the wall and Austin Cindric/Chase Briscoe both being spun late, Chastain easily snuck by and into the second to last round.
“I’m human, so it hurts to make the mistakes that I made today and yesterday,” Chastain said who also got into the wall in qualifying on Saturday too. “I’ll take some time here with my guys and when I drive out of this parking lot, I’m going to make a big effort to leave the Roval here. Normally, it’s Monday morning when I’m done with it and look through everything, but we’re onto another round. It’s a testament to our season and our finish in points today. The strategy by (crew chief) Phil Surgen and our strategy with Trackhouse and Team Chevy to get the stage win in Stage Two is ultimately the difference that gave me the buffer when I needed it the most.
“I will drive off the property here in Concord and leave this here. It’s the No. 1 priority. I hit the wall really hard, so hats off to this car and what NASCAR and the France family has rolled out. I don’t think a year ago I’m able to continue as hard as I hit the wall. I couldn’t believe it when I made the mistake. I’m still in a bit of a disbelief, but when I walk out of here tonight, it’s full speed ahead to Vegas. I have to move on.”
Knowing Chastain, he will put this behind him and turn his focus to the three tracks ahead. What’s wild though is, there’s a chance that Chastain can march to the final round of the playoffs over the next 3 weeks too.
Chastain won Xfinity race for Ganassi at Vegas and was 3rd this past spring as well. On top of that, Chastain finished 7th in both Kansas races this season too. For Homestead, he’s never been particularly great there but that was with underfunded teams. He was 17th last year as his best Cup finish. He was 3rd however in the 2020 Xfinity Series race and 4th for Niece in 2019 in the Truck Series. With Chastain being quick at Darlington this season, he’s worth a risk.
Then at Martinsville, he was 5th in the spring.
Trackhouse took over for the Ganassi squad just 2 years ago and they’re using that equipment to get to this round again. Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch took Ganassi cars to the Round of 8 in back-to-back years of 2018 and 2019. Trackhouse purchased the assets, building, everything from Ganassi in the summer of 2020. While we have a new car and this team operating on a different philosophy, it’s still has Ganassi’s thumbprints on it and for the 3rd time in 5 years, a car is into the third round.
Can Chastain take this ride though to somewhere it’s never been? A Championship 4?
The 3rd seed has made the Championship 4 every year since 2017.