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As you may have heard, Ross Chastain put in a full day on Sunday that extended beyond three and a half hours of driving to a fifth-place finish in the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400.

Everyone has seen the punch Chastain landed on rookie Noah Gragson after the race. If you were late tuning into the FS1 telecast, however, you missed a verbal shot Chastain landed on a retired driver.

Ross Chastain had a good Sunday

Trackhouse Racing driver Ross Chastain greets fans during intros for the NASCAR Cup Series Advent Health 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 7, 2023. | Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Trackhouse Racing driver Ross Chastain greets fans during intros for the NASCAR Cup Series Advent Health 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 7, 2023. | Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Ross Chastain came to Kansas Speedway with a three-point lead in the NASCAR Cup Series standings and left with a 31-point advantage after placing fifth. He hasn’t won yet, but the driver of Trackhouse Racing’s No. 1 Chevy owns five top-five finishes and four more in the top 13 in a dozen starts.

Chastain has also bagged four stage wins, each worth a playoff point, and is nearly halfway to the regular-season championship, which would earn another 15 playoff points. Sure, he’ll almost certainly need some wins along the way, but the Florida watermelon farmer is setting himself up to return to the Championship 4.

Things got physical with Noah Gragson after the race

Rookie Noah Gragson of Legacy Motor Club was having a good run through 200 of the scheduled 267 Laps at Kansas Speedway. After qualifying 22nd, Gragson worked his way to 12th at the end of Stage 1. Then he took advantage of the pit cycle at the end of Stage 2 to climb to third and grab eight points.

In turn, the No. 42 Chevy cycled back to 28th place before Gragson worked back to the top five on Lap 193. But Gragson started falling back and found himself side by side with Ross Chastain coming out of Turn 4 on Lap 206. The No. 1 Chevy didn’t appear to make contact as Chastain came up the track, but the aero effect was enough to destabilize the No. 42 Chevy and put Gragson against the wall.

Gragson ended up pitting four times in eight laps for tires and adjustments. By the end of the sequence, he was five laps down. Late in the race, Chastain was making a pass when Gragson slid up to make his presence felt, but there was no contact.

They found each other right after the race, and words escalated into physical contact as Gragson grabbed Chastain, who responded with a punch before security stepped in.

Ross Chastain started his day with a shot at Michael Waltrip

Of all the things Fox Sports does wrong in its NASCAR Cup Series telecasts, the most easily avoidable is Michael Waltrip’s grid walk before the race. The “interviews” with three or four drivers tend to consist of one question apiece, and none of them elicit especially illuminating responses.

Sunday’s walk brought Waltrip, who won four of 784 Cup Series starts and was also a team owner, to Ross Chastain. Waltrip prefaced the encounter by noting Chastain was the story of the week after his incident with Brennan Poole. The rest went like this:

Waltrip: “But I know you, you’re a competitor. You put on that helmet, close that shield, and off you go.”

Chastain: “Yeah, sometimes I do it just to cover up my haircut. But I’m good this week. You might need a helmet again.”

Waltrip: “You think the haircut’s a bit off?”

Chastain: “I hope they gave you something to go with it.”

Sheesh. Just when you’re thinking you’ve had enough of Chastain, he delivers like that.

Got a question or observation about racing? Sportscasting’s John Moriello does a mailbag column each Friday. Write to him at [email protected].


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