By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Since the implementation of the current playoff format in 2014, every driver who has won the NASCAR Cup Series finale also hoisted the Bill France Trophy. In fact, the Cup Series was the only series that batted 1.000 in the category.
Ross Chastain changed all of that as he was victorious in Sunday’s Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway. He did so in dominant fashion as the “Melon Man” led a race-high 157 of 312 laps to end a rather rough season with his second win of the year and the fourth of his career.
While all eyes were on Ryan Blaney winning the championship and Kevin Harvick saying goodbye, Chastain’s victory still created some buzz.
“I was a little worried that they might be focused on Blaney,” said Chastain. “I went down to three and four where NASCAR wanted me to go, and I did a burnout by him. We did burnouts by each other. Pretty cool. I was worried we were going to run into each other.
“The reaction was just as strong as the other wins. I’m really proud of that. I’m really proud that people see how much I care whenever we win.”
Chastain’s quest towards victory faced a roadblock as Blaney fought hard on hunting him down. Some blocks were thrown, infuriating Blaney as he deliberately slammed into the back bumper of Chastain on multiple occasions.
With 56 laps remaining, Blaney furthermore showed his displeasure by remining Chastain that he’s number one. Just like his car number of his Chevrolet Camaro.
Blaney made it clear how upset he was at Chastain as his odds for the championship could’ve been compromised due to the aggressive battle.
“F****** right I hit him on purpose. He blocked me on purpose 10 times,” said Blaney.
“What do you expect me to do? He’s backing me up to the other championship guy, and I got to go. We were just racing hard.
“But do I think he was over excessive on the blocks? Yes, very much so. Did I hit him? Yes, I did. That’s just part of it.”
A misunderstanding from Chastain regarding having no remorse on the title contenders if it meant winning was in the cards. In the post-race press conference, Chastain clarified that he does care for his competitors, especially when there’s four guys going for NASCAR immortality. More than Blaney does in his own eyes.
“I care, arguably, out there more than anybody because I was not going to put…