Ross Chastain is one of the NASCAR Cup Series’ top up-and-coming talents.
But that also comes with a catch.
Chastain has also also earned himself a reputation as one of the sport’s most aggressive drivers, sometimes bordering on out of control.
Just ask fellow driver Noah Gragson. Or Denny Hamlin. Or Chase Elliott.
One driver who had defended Chastain is 2021 series champion Kyle Larson.
Larson claims that Chastain is a good thing for NASCAR, and that he could become immensely popular.
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“I think he is sort of like owning it. And I think he’s got the potential to be more popular than Chase Elliott. So I think it’s awesome. He’s moving the needle,” Larson said.
Fast forward just a bit and that opinion may well have changed.
Larson and Chastain were racing for a win late in Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darling Raceway when Chastain ran Larson up the track, causing both to crash.
Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson wrecked.
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Larson, clearly aggravated, stayed in the gas and pushed Chastain’s car well down the track.
“Why would he wreck us out of the lead,” Larson’s crew chief Cliff Daniels asked. “What a hack…Make that 3 races he’s taken us out of now, Chevrolet. Good job.”
Larson opted not to speak with members of the media after the race. But his team owner, Rick Hendrick, had plenty to say.
“I don’t care if he’s driving a Chevrolet if he wrecks our cars,” Hendrick said of Chastain, who also drives a Chevy for Trackhouse Racing. “I don’t care. I’ve told Chevrolet that. If you wreck us, you’re going to get it back. If you don’t do it, they’ll run all over you.”
But he didn’t stop there.
“He doesn’t have to be that aggressive,” Hendrick said of Chastain. “I guess at this point in the race maybe you’re super aggressive, but you just don’t run people up in the fence. He’s going to make a lot of enemies. It’s hard to win a championship when you’ve got a lot of paybacks out there.”
Chastain is clearly a talented driver. And he’s undoubtedly a championship contender for the second year running. But with his length list of enemies continuing to grow, it’s hard to see how he gets that far unscathed.