NASCARNASCAR Cup SeriesChastain Third After a Pit Stop Away from Winning Fontana Finale

Chastain Third After a Pit Stop Away from Winning Fontana Finale

By Justin Schuoler, Staff Writer

FONTANA, Calif. – For the first time in his career, Ross Chastain swept both Stages in the Pala Casino 400 in the final 2-mile race at Auto Club Speedway.

However, he was out-dueled by Kyle Busch and finished third in NASCAR’s west coast swing start.

“When he caught up to us, I was really loose,” Chastain shared. “We made a good step on that pit stop to tighten it up, but I don’t think our balance was the issue. We just needed a little more raw grip, mechanical and aero grip. I felt like we stayed pretty similar, and he got a lot better the last half of that race.”

Restarts saw lots of chaos, including a 10-car pileup on a restart on lap 88 that retired four of those drivers. Some instances saw four-wide passing, slidejobs, and even cars grazing the wall on corner exits.

Last year, Chastain saw himself in the middle of the wreckfest. One of those was a hard hit during practice in the middle of Turn 4 where he lost a right front tire and broke the suspension, sending his car straight into the outside wall. While he was able to get out of the car, it was one of the first hard hits with the new car NASCAR introduced to the Cup Series last year. Officials immediately began thoroughly inspecting the car with help from some Trackhouse Racing employees.

“You look back last year, we were last in the (Daytona) 500 and 29th here,” he reflected. “To be where we’re at, to come back from an incredible crash – one that I still feel very blessed and fortunate to be standing here today, which is a testament to this NextGen Car – besides winning today, I couldn’t be much happier with how these two races have went.”

He should be happy a year later. Last year, he was outside of the top-20 in driver points. Leaving Fontana, he has won three of the four stages and leads the standings over reigning champion Joey Logano.

Justin Schuoler
Justin Schuoler
Justin’s experience starts back in the mid-90s racing dirt bikes and ATVs. He won a local championship in 1999, and competed in multiple endurance grand prix races across Southern California. In 2015, he shifted from two wheels to four wheels, winning his first sprint kart race and finishing second in that championship. Now he works as a race official with that very club while working on making a comeback to the track. Simultaneously, his journalism career began with NASCAR and Supercross. First started with Speedway Media, he now works as the web developer and tech manager for Kickin’ the Tires. He met his significant other at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and after he and Rachel married in 2018, they together have covered west coast races in karting, Supercross, NASCAR, drag racing, dirt racing, World of Outlaws, and even a visit to his original motocross club.


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