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“Those Knuckleheads Divebombed It” – Ricky Stenhouse Jr & Michael McDowell’s Shenanigans Prove Detrimental for Ross Chastain

Published 02/03/2024, 9:34 PM EST

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Ross Chastain experienced a bumpy start to the 2024 season. Driving the Busch Light-sponsored Chevrolet in the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, Chastain would have expected a better season opener. In one of the instances, the No.1 Chevy slid onto the outside after a contact from the No.47 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Stenhouse Jr and Michael McDowell were involved in a barrage of blows throughout the race. Eventually, the battle caught Chastain on Turn 2.

Stenhouse Jr was in the spotlight throughout the evening due to his continuous involvement in altercations. While the entanglement with McDowell came after the second restart, he also took his concerns to John Hunter Nemechek in the mid-race break. Following Stenhouse Jr’s reckless move that triggered another caution, Ross Chastain’s team radio echoed with some words of disapproval.

The series of wrecks between Ross Chastain, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, and Michael McDowell

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In the 78th lap, a fourth caution flag was waved as soon as Ty Gibbs took the lead back from Joey Logano. The reason behind it was McDowell and Stenhouse Jr. The #34 driver spun the 2023 Daytona 500 winner to trigger another restart quickly after the previous one. With the short track and narrow lanes congesting the grid, there needed to be more room to pass other drivers. McDowell struck Stenhouse Jr by squeezing a divebomb maneuver in the small window available.

This move didn’t go down well with Stenhouse Jr as he hit back at the #34 driver on Turn 1 in the caution period before the restart. However, Ross Chastain was ultimately the biggest loser in this scenario. Chastain lost important places after being a victim of the divebomb and had to start behind his previous position on the restart.

Ross Chastain’s crew conveyed its words for the incident and slammed Stenhouse Jr & McDowell’s intention, saying, “A couple of those knuckleheads divebombed it in there. Looked like the 47 may have gotten you.”

However, that was not all for the troubled trio. With 10 laps remaining in the race, Ross Chastain made contact with the outside wall, which bounced the #1 Chevrolet right into the rear of Michael McDowell. This spun the #34 driver, who collided with the wall. Chastain later shed light on the incident in a post-race interview and revealed how it was all good between the duo.

Ross Chastain’s night at the Busch Light Clash was marred with unwarranted contacts and unnecessary wrecks. While the episode with McDowell and Stenhouse Jr was filled with some of them, the theme continued to play out even after the checkered flag.

Tyler Reddick and Chastain engaged after the end of the race

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After a frustrating evening, Ross Chastain had faced a horde of problems. Apart from being spun by a divebombing maneuver, Tyler Reddick pushed the #1 Chevrolet into his teammate Bubba Wallace’s #23 Toyota in one of the laps. Wallace, who had spun out and awaited a caution flag, remained helpless as Chastain bumped him uncontrollably.

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Some of the bad blood from that incident seems to be reflected in the post-race events. The pair banged doors after the checkered flag in what is the most unexpected outcome of the race. While Reddick and Ross Chastain do not share any such grievances with each other, that is how racing can be at times. Chastain could have had a top-10 finish but thanks to Reddick’s push, he had to settle for a P15 finish there.

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Overall, the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum was filled with high-octane racing, contacts, regular lead changes and a display of the off-season preparation. Seeing drivers don new colors is exciting and teases the fans about the upcoming season’s story.

Watch This Story: Martin Truex Jr Leads The Way Again As Odds For The Clash At The Coliseum Are Out

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Written by:

Ansuman Abhisek

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Ansuman Abhisek is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. Even before he made his way into the world of motorsports, he had already made a name for himself in the sports journalism field by working as a writer for a few media houses. Now, having covered multiple Cup races live, he has often been the first to report on-track incidents and also provide his readers with an in-depth analysis of the same.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta