FORT WORTH, Texas – If you look at a volatile stock price and Ross Chastain’s position graph from today’s (Sept. 24) AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway, both would be considered very similar.
He started in fifth and raced his way to second behind Bubba Wallace within the opening stage.
However, due to a bad stop after a caution involving Kyle Busch and a few drivers staying out, Chastain had to battle his way back into the top 10. He stayed near it until a pit-road penalty under caution at lap 168 sent him all the way back to 30th.
In danger of getting lapped, he was in dire need of a caution.
“When I got in traffic in the mid-20s behind maybe Nos. 22 and 47, the attitude of the car changed so much,” Chastain said. “I drove into [turn] 1, got real loose, went way up the track and was looking straight at the wall. I was just breaking straight lines trying not to hit it.”
Chastain would get just what he wanted in the form of teammate Daniel Suarez on lap 209.
With the caution, Chastain made the gutsy decision to take two tires and take just enough fuel to make it.
“We had like 85 laps to go,” Chastain said. “It was all about no more big mistakes like that. Two tire call, which is gutsy to also wait on fuel. I know Phil [Surgen] didn’t want to do that, but that got us from high 20s to 11th, and that gave us a shot.”
He would race his way up the field back to the top 10 before chaos ensued for the final 20 laps of the race, and with a two-tire call to gain a few more spots and the misfortune of leaders such as Kyle Larson, Chastain would race his way around older tires and capture a much-needed finish of second place.
Chastain reflected that restarting on the bottom was the key to gaining many of his spots.
“Restarting on the bottom – two restarts in a row you get beat,” Chastain continued. “Then there’s that one magical one where they all slide up and you pass seven cars versus passing like one or two at a time on the top.”
After the impressive comeback, Chastain finds himself sitting sixth in points, 12 points above the cutline, an important cushion heading into Talladega Superspeedway, a track he has found victory lane at before. He just hopes he’s not in the same situation as he was today.
“Look, I just want to run good,” the Trackhouse Racing driver said. “I don’t want to be 28th in line. I’m dying inside the car just how we worked ourselves from running second early in the race. We just worked ourselves backwards and I had some bad restarts. We’ll figure out what the throttle issue was, probably just a freak car failure, and we’ll get to work for Talladega.”
Chastain had the wildest of rides with his ups and downs on Sunday, but in the end, the Floridian Melon Man finished ahead of the cutline coming to the most unpredictable playoff race at the 2.67-mile Alabama circuit of Talladega.
About the author
Wyatt Watson has been an avid fan of NASCAR since 2007 at the age of 8. He joined Frontstretch in February 2023 after serving in the United States Navy for five years as an Electronic Technician Navigation working on submarines. Wyatt writes breaking NASCAR news and contributes to columns such as Friday Faceoff and 2-Headed Monster. Wyatt also contributes to Frontstretch's social media and serves as an at-track reporter.
Wyatt Watson can be found on Twitter @WyattGametime
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