1. Ross Chastain Is As Big a Heel As Kyle Busch Ever Was
If you ask anyone who’s been following NASCAR since at least 2000 who the biggest bad guy in the sport has been over that time, chances are they’re going to say Kyle Busch.
Busch made playing the heel, as they call villains in professional wrestling, into an art form. And not unlike pro wrestlers, Busch both understood and leaned into the idea that some people not liking you can actually be good for your career.
Getting a reaction – any reaction – is the idea. But that’s when we’re talking about fans.
Ross Chastain has what wrestlers would call the wrong kind of heat. He has people who can’t stand him not because they like to root against him (though some likely do, given his success since joining Trackhouse Racing) but because they wish he wasn’t even racing.
And crucially, this is from other drivers, not fans.
Larson isn’t likely to ever retaliate on the track or come looking to rumble with the Melon Man after a race. Gragson, on the other hand, definitely is.
As the AP’s Dave Skretta noted this week, it’s possible that Chastain can “embrace the role of the villain.” It’s just that there’s a difference between a persona you put on for the crowd and one you live out on the track. Busch himself started out doing the latter before gradually drifting toward the former.
Can Chastain do the same — and does he even want to?
2. Maybe NASCAR Fights Should Be Regulated Like Hockey Fights
There aren’t nearly as many fights in NHL games as there were several decades ago, when dropping the gloves was a more accepted way of handling slights both real and imagined on the ice. One thing that hasn’t changed all that much is that when two players square off, the officials don’t move in to break it up until they’re either both on the ice thrashing around or one clearly has the other in trouble.
Before you question how this is relevant to NASCAR, consider one of the things Gragson said after his post-race scuffle with Chastain at Kansas Speedway: “I didn’t even get a shot in because the security guards got in the middle of it.”
He’s not wrong.
This was a one-shot…