DARLINGTON, S.C.- For the third time in the last four NASCAR Cup Series races (Talladega Superspeedway, Dover Motor Speedway, and Darlington Raceway on May 14), an incident involving Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson occurred. This time seems to be a last straw for both Kyle Larson and Rick Hendrick, who was very candid in the media center about the No. 1 and his run-ins with the No. 5.
On the second-to-last restart with six to go, both cars were on the front row; Chastain squeezed Larson into the fence that ultimately caused the No. 1 to be out of the race and the No. 5 to ultimately to finish 20th with Hendrick teammate William Byron getting the win.
Something was building in the previous restarts as Larson and Chastain were close to making contact. In all three instances — one with 92 laps left, another with 13 left and the last with six to go — neither driver left the other any room. Chastain just was the one who tried the move incorrectly, ending both of their days.
Rick Hendrick appeared to be very frustrated with Chastain post-race despite getting the team’s first win at Darlington since 2012.
“It’s hard to win a championship when you have a lot of paybacks out there,” Rick Hendrick said on Chastain in the postrace press conference. “He’s got a lot of talent, but he’s making a lot of enemies out here.”
Both Larson and crew chief Cliff Daniels were very pissed as well with Chastain and Chevrolet for allowing this to continue to happen. “Make that three races now he has taken us out of, Chevrolet good job good job. Three races that 1 car has taken us out,” Daniels said on the radio right after the wreck.
Does Hendrick believe Chevy should step in?
“Well, I don’t know if Chevrolet can cool it down,” Hendrick said. “I don’t know that. That’s not the way they usually operate. It’s either NASCAR or the drivers, the owners.”
As mentioned, this is the third time in the last four that an action by Chastain has gotten Larson to be caught up in it. Talladega was the one where Chastain made the bold move by Noah Gragson that resulted in Larson’s wreck with Ryan Preece. Then at Dover, Chastain moved Brennan Poole that collected Larson as well.
“This one and Dover and just Talladega, it’s really getting old with these guys,” Hendrick said.
Hendrick was also very honest in that loyalty to Chevy will not play a role in if his drivers should pay him back.