Ross Chastain was ruing missed opportunities in the NASCAR Cup Series race in Las Vegas after what he conceded were self-inflicted problems in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, which he was driving as a stand-in for the injured Ryan Newman.
Chastain was beating himself up after a lowly 27th-place finish in the Pennzoil 400, though Sunday was the first time the Florida native had sat in a Roush car.
“RFR and everybody puts so much into these cars, and ultimately I’m the one holding the wheel,” said Chastain. “We had such a good first stage and had so much confidence; and from there, I just started making mistakes.”
Chastain was in position for a top-15 finish, if not better, when he found trouble twice late in the day. The first setback was bouncing off Kurt Busch during a frantic restart with 41 laps to go, which sent both drivers to pit road for potential tire rubs and fender damage.
Then, with just six laps remaining, Chastain spun.
In Stage 1, he finished 10th. He was 15th in Stage 2 and had an overall average running position of 16.9 throughout the 267-lap race, running as high as fifth.
“It’s hard to get out of the car after you have a top-10 car and you go and run into people, and pick the wrong lanes on restarts, and then spin it out at the end,” said Chastain. “That’s pretty silly. Just a lot of mistakes on my end, and then, at the end, just over-driving. Coming to less than 10 laps to go in a Cup race, and I spin out in the middle of (Turns) 1 and 2 – that’s unacceptable.”
Chastain is expected to remain in the No. 6 car as Newman’s substitute for the foreseeable future. He will continue to split his time between his full-time responsibility in the Xfinity Series with Kaulig Racing and helping Roush Fenway.
“The (RFR) car deserved a lot better finish,” said Chastain. “Obviously, we showed that early, and I just didn’t have great restarts. These guys kind of ate me alive on the restarts; I’d lose three or four spots every time, and picked the wrong lines through (Turns) 1 and 2, and then 3 and 4. I just kept making silly mistakes that I should learn from after I make the mistake once. I just have to be better.”