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“Ridiculous”: Ross Chastain’s Bizarre Relegation at Las Vegas Earns NASCAR Widespread Backlash

Published 03/03/2024, 4:46 PM EST

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NASCAR Cup drivers are gearing up for a showdown at Las Vegas. After back-to-back superspeedway races at Daytona and Atlanta, now racers will battle it out in a more traditional, 1.5-mile oval circuit. Officials had decided the line-up, with Joey Logano leading in the pole position. But in last-minute changes, they tweaked the order of cars a little, following a brush-up with Ross Chastain.

Fans have long hailed Chastain as a real villain of NASCAR. He prefers fists over words to solve problems. Even Dale Earnhardt Jr. referred to him as the leader of NASCAR’s “sh*t stirrers”. However, in a twist of fate, fans are rallying behind Chastain ahead of the Las Vegas flag-off.

Fans protested Ross Chastain’s position change

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Ever since signing up for Trackhouse Racing, Chastain had three top-5 finishes in four races at Las Vegas, including a P3 finish in the March 2022 race. This year, Trackhouse is still dizzy from the glory snatched by their Mexican driver Daniel Suarez in Atlanta. However, Chastain has bumped into an unforeseen problem.

Ahead of the Pennzoil 400 race this afternoon, Ross Chastain had to have the wrap of his No. 1 Kubota Chevy adjusted. But this did not sit well with the many. Bob Pockrass shared an update on this matter on Twitter, stating, “Add Chastain to the rear. Team says they had to redo the wrap at the hood because it was coming up impacting Chastain’s sight. Changing the wrap at that area is unapproved adjustment. Haley (steering rack) and Preece (backup car) also to rear.”

Ross Chastain was going to start on the P20, but he will now bunk with Ryan Preece (backup car) and Justin Haley (steering rack change). The change invited a storm of opposition from fans.

Some people ridiculed NASCAR’s footing in this trivial issue- “What?? This seems ridiculous.” Another fan tweeted: “Changing the wrap gets you sent to the back wtf????” One fan also added a hilarious take on the topic- “Next: Closing window net when driver gets in is unapproved safety modification, instant DQ.” And some Chastain fans were convinced about the melon farming driver’s talents- “Meh car that gets sent to the rear usually wins anyways Ross can do it.” Another fan commented: “Guess we’re gonna pass them all.”

 

Following the first two races of this season, Chastain sits 8th in the ranks. Plus, he led Saturday’s NASCAR Cup practice with the highest lap speed: 184.268 mph. So it would not be surprising if he can maneuver his way, dumping and bumping, to the lead of the race. However, unlike the support for Chastain, people have wanted some drivers to be sent to the rear in some past instances.

Denny Hamlin raised his voice against an on-track vendetta

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Last year at a Truck Series championship, Corey Heim unleashed vengeance on Carson Hocevar. After the latter spun Heim, he decided to wall his rival, which affected other racers who were driving clean. It pulled Grant Enfinger from champion to runner-up and pushed Ben Rhodes ahead. The 150-mile race then stretched to three hours.

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Despite Enfinger getting multiple restarts in overtime, the damage was too much and Rhodes emerged as the champion. Denny Hamlin strongly spoke out against this tumult. 

He encouraged sending such rowdy drivers to the rear when Pockrass asked him. “Yeah. That’s what they do in the local short tracks. I don’t understand, it shouldn’t be that hard,” Hamlin said. “Some of these are blatant enough that you can see that someone hit someone and they kept pushing, those are the types of incidents you just penalize.”

“But we’re never going to get there I don’t think NASCAR is ever going to make that change. My opinion of it is that it’s, it’s not even a short-term gain anymore. Sure it gets people on social media talking but we’re not having more viewers because of this chaos that we’re creating.”

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Crashes have already peppered the opening races of 2024. Let’s see what chaos the Las Vegas race has in store for us.

Focused Ross Chastain Refutes Fellow Drivers’ Superspeedway Criticism to Acclaim Atlanta’s ‘Crazy Perfect Storm’

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Written by:

Sumedha Mukherjee

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Sumedha Mukherjee is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports who is known for her in-depth track analysis as well as her lifestyle coverage of Cup drivers like Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. Inspired by the Kiwi's journey so far, Sumedha has also written pieces on Shane Van Gisbergen, predicting how the Supercars Champion would do in the new and unfamiliar American setting. Pairing her research skills with her vast experience as a writer, Sumedha creates stories her readers can easily get lost in.
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Edited by:

Shreya Singh