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Conceited Ross Chastain Refuses to Apologise, Deems Last Lap Wreckout a Massive Daytona Breakthrough

Published 02/19/2024, 9:58 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

Ross Chastain’s new Busch Light paint scheme on his Trackhouse Racing #1 Camaro ZL1 was shining brightly from the get-go of the 2024 Daytona 500 until his dreams were shattered around the very last laps. The melon farmer from Alva, who had qualified in P21 for the flagship race, started brilliantly and even moved up to P3 at the end of Stage 1. However, with just one lap to go, Chastain went sliding through the infield grass as he tried going through an emerging gap in the middle of the track

This allowed William Byron to take the white flag before the caution came out and he was declared the winner. Speaking after the race, Chastain was satisfied with his performance and wasn’t apologetic for his decision.

Last-lap woes emerge for Ross Chastain

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Aggressive maneuvering by the eventual winner of the 500, William Byron caused a spin-out after Chastain’s car was turned inside by Austin Cindric’s #2 Team Penske Ford, trying to avoid contact with the #24 car of the 26-year-old. This dragged Ross Chastain to the back of the grid, making him finish at an ironic P21 again. It was truly a race that displayed true unpredictability and heartbreak for many.

The aggressive maneuvering from the former iRacing phenom also impacted the 2015 Daytona 500 winner, Joey Logano, who started the race from pole position but wasn’t able to achieve the result his strong start suggested. This raises questions about the impact of such aggressive tactics in the heat of the competition.

Nevertheless, the new ‘Anheuser-Busch guy’ tried to console himself, envisioning a breakthrough in recent post-race interviews, as he said, “I took the gap, and I don’t apologize for that. I can go to sleep tonight knowing that I took the white flag making the move to win the Daytona 500. Four years ago, it was with eight laps to go or something. I’ve got it down to one lap to go, and yeah, too aggressive though when you don’t finish.”

 

But he did admit to being a little over-aggressive and said, “I was just too aggressive with my turn left,” he added. “I should have just waited a little bit longer, obviously. I’m here standing here talking (to reporters) instead of out there (in Victory Lane).”

Chastain’s No. 1 stayed door-to-door with the No. 24 Chevy of Byron for the first two laps of the final green-flag stretch, until Byron inched ahead with a massive push from Austin Cindric and others. Chastain’s lane regrouped as it moved to the white flag, and that’s when he saw an opening.

Chastain dipped low on Byron, who held his ground. As he did, he made contact with Cindric’s No. 2 Ford, sending both cars sliding. Chastain initially lamented the moment and took the blame but Cindric seemed to absolve Chastain.

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Cindric took an issue with Corey LaJoie

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Penske Ford driver Cindric, seeking his first win since winning the 2022 Daytona 500, called the accident “a really unfortunate end” as he eventually was classified 22nd. He took issue with LaJoie, who attempted to go three wide and caused the inside line to lose momentum in the run to the white flag.

Cindric said, “We were really in great position with the outside lane breaking up and kind of one-on-one with the 24 [Byron] with the whole pack behind, so you can’t really ask for anything else other than that out of myself and the team.”  

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Now that Daytona didn’t end well for Ross Chastain, His next test will be at the Ambetter Health 400 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25th. This time the #1 will be looking to overturn his recent misfortunes on the track where he finished as runners-up in his inaugural 2022 season with Trackhouse Racing.

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Written by:

Amman Augustin

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Amman Augustin is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. With his coverage majorly focusing on the lavish off-track lives of drivers, Amman often brings the lesser-known side of Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick to their fans. Another aspect of NASCAR where he flourishes is covering rivalries between competitors.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta