Judging by NASCAR Cup Series statistics alone, things are going great for Ross Chastain. He and Trackhouse Racing are proving that their 2022 breakout season was no fluke. Though he does not yet have a win this season, Chastain leads the overall points standings. His lead grew from three to 31 points thanks to a top-five finish and a crash by Christopher Bell at Kansas Speedway last weekend.
However, another week went by where Chastain found himself caught up in controversy. This time he drew the ire of Noah Gragson. While battling for position off the exit of turn 4, Chastain washed up the track and slid toward Gragson, leaving little room for the No. 42. Gragson bounced off the wall and veered left into the No. 1 going down the frontstretch in an obvious show of displeasure with Chastain. Not long after, on lap 206, Gragson went sliding down the backstretch, bringing out the caution.
Yet the Chastain/Gragson drama did not end there. After the race, Gragson confronted Chastain on pit road to further voice his frustration. Gragson then grabbed the front of Chastain’s fire suit. When he didn’t let go, Chastain threw a punch at Gragson, setting off a scuffle that was quickly broken up by security. There were no further words — or punches — exchanged between the two drivers.
“I got tight off of [turn] 4 for sure,” Chastain said. “Noah and I have a very similar attitude on the racetrack. We train together, we prepare together, we know each other, every little bit about each other. [I] definitely crowded him up on (turn) 4, he took a swipe at us in [turn] 3 and then came down [after the race] and grabbed ahold of me. A very big man once told me we have a no-push policy here at Trackhouse.”
Gragson, unsurprisingly, had a different take.
“I just got fenced by the [No.] 1,” Gragson said. “He took care of us at Talladega. We’re Chevrolet teammates and he didn’t work with us there, fenced us here, and I’m just over it. Nobody else has the balls to at least confront him, and least just grab him and do something. He’s just gonna keep doing it. I’m over it, it’s the second time.
“I have respect for Justin Marks and the rest of the Trackhouse team, that’s why I’m not wrecking him on the racetrack. I’m ready to fight him. I didn’t even get a shot at him because the security guards got in the middle of it. Nobody confronts the guy. He…