Chastain 'hustles' to career-best second at Nashville

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Chastain 'hustles' to career-best second at Nashville


Chastain 'hustles' to career-best second at Nashville


Walking back through the garage area after the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway, Ross Chastain posted a video on Twitter about his second-place finish. The tweet simply said, “P2!!! We’ll take that.”

Chastain wasn’t going to be greedy or wonder what could have been. Sunday was a career-best finish for Chastain in the NASCAR Cup Series and his third finish of seventh or better in the last four races.

“We had the speed to run top five all day, but I sped on pit road, and I boxed us in our pit box,” Chastain said. “For most of the day I was so loose entry of Turn 1, almost like a wheel-hop and bouncing the right rear. I really struggled, and finally, the last three runs of the race (crew chief) Phil Surgen and this Clover Chevy team, they got it to where I could hustle it, and that’s what I needed.

“The bad part was we had brake fade like I’m sure everybody else did, and it felt like my Florida pro truck days … where I had to back up the corner so far, and it paid off on the long run. I felt like we were passing cars all day, and at the end, I didn’t want a caution. I knew Kyle was out there; let’s get to second, and we’ll be happy with it.”

The run to the finish was 68 green flag laps, and Chastain was one of a few drivers in a good position with fuel mileage and tires. Larson and most of the leaders pitted for the final time under caution for a lap 218 spin by Darrell Wallace Jr. But Chastain wasn’t brought down pit road for the last time until a lap 228 caution.

Having a 10-lap buffer allowed Chastain to press hard in the final run. He was third with nine laps to go and moved to second a lap later. But Larson was untouchable, and Chastain trailed him by over four seconds at the checkered flag.

“To come to a 750-horsepower track – lifting, sliding, and moving all over the racetrack trying to get forward drive – it was really good,” Chastain said.

The pieces have been coming together lately for Chastain and the No. 42 team. Two consecutive top-10 finishes at Sonoma and Nashville, and Chastain has six top-15 finishes in the last seven races. At 20th in the point standings, Chastain is in the playoff picture but doesn’t seem focused on a postseason berth.

“I just want to compete; that’s the biggest thing,” Chastain said. “I’m racing with my heroes. I want to compete with them, and I want to beat them.”

Chastain’s teammate Kurt Busch finished eighth to put two Ganassi cars in the top 10. The second straight week the organization had done so.

“We’re building because I feel like I was just flat awful to begin the year,” Chastain said. “Trying to keep up with a hero of mine like Kurt Busch and the No. 1 Monster Energy team. For the two CGR teams to run good today, we were on the good end of the tire strategy there at the end.

“I did question Phil Surgen. I feel terrible for it, but it paid off, and yeah, it’s momentum and it’s speed in the race cars. It’s a great feeling.”