Kevin Harvick called Ross Chastain “inexperienced” and said he “made a bad move” after the two got together battling for the lead in the Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway.
Running inches apart through Turns 1 and 2, Harvick got loose underneath Chastain as the two began to exit the corner. Harvick slid up into Chastain, sending the Chip Ganassi Racing driver bouncing off the wall, and then Chastain went back to the left and hooked Harvick in the right rear.
“I tried to stay as low as I could, and he just rode on my door,” Harvick said. “That’s just a really inexperienced racer and a really bad move there; got the air and got on beside me and just kept going up the racetrack.
“I couldn’t do anything with the wheel. So, you’ve got a really inexperienced guy in a really fast car and made a really bad move, and then wrecked me down the back straightaway and hooked me to the right. That’s probably the reason that he’ll never get to drive many of them again.”
The crashed ended Harvick’s day. Over the in-car radio, Harvick said he was wrecked on purpose, and he parked in Chastain’s pit stall before continuing to the garage.
“Once I hit the wall, I was out of control,” Chastain said. “We were too free there that final run we were up front, and those guys [Harvick and Brad Keselowski] closed back up,” said Chastain. “They kept rolling the bottom, rolling the bottom, but as long as I ran the high side I could keep clear of them, and he did have a better [Turn] 1 and 2 there. I haven’t seen the tape; I saw a clip of it but not the whole deal.
“There’s a lapped car, there’s a lot going on, and I am trying to learn, right? Never been in that situation. But I trust the guys I’m racing around to give a car width, is all I ask for, is exactly fender to fender left to right. And we just ran out of room there.”
Darlington was the first of three Xfinity Series races for Chastain in the No. 42 with CGR. Chastain won the first and second stage of the race and led 90 laps after starting from the pole. Able to continue with a wounded car, Chastain salvaged a 25th-place finish.
“It was really cool, man. Like I’m going restart for restart, lap for lap, rolling the top with Brad and Kevin,” said Chastain. “I was smiling inside the car the whole time. We were too loose that run and it was why they were able to catch back up. Just cool to be able to learn so quickly with CGR and everybody, but it’s a product of racing every week since I was 13 years old. Every chance I got, I raced no matter good, bad, ugly.”
Chastain felt nothing he could say to Harvick would make it better. But he did believe the two would speak eventually, and Chastain said he didn’t care what Harvick said about him.
The next two races Chastain will compete for Ganassi in will be Las Vegas on Sept. 15 and Richmond on Sept. 21.
“I don’t think I did enough to get this opportunity, and yeah, I’m down on myself a lot, but I’ve said it time and time again, nobody deserves this,” Chastain said of his race.
“Less people get this opportunity that I did for these couple of races and to have a car like we had this weekend, more people win the lottery than get this opportunity. We’re kind of in a bubble where we see guys in fast cars all the time, but to have somebody like myself – a watermelon farmer from Florida that started racing when he was 13 because my dad just wanted me to go have fun…
“Man, if it all ended today and I had to go back to the farm I would have no regrets about anything we’ve done. There’s a lot of things I could have done better in my life to get to this point, but we’ve gotten here somehow, and I’m thankful. It’s crazy. Yeah, there’s negativity around this, but I really hope people smile because there was somebody different up there racing with those guys. Smile about that if nothing else.”