Chastain playing it cool in playoffs...so far

Nicel Kinrade/Motorsport Images

Chastain playing it cool in playoffs...so far

NASCAR

Chastain playing it cool in playoffs...so far

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So far, so good for Ross Chastain in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Chastain and Trackhouse Racing have never been in this position before. As first-timers to the postseason, Chastain and company didn’t know what to expect or how to approach competing for a championship after locking in with two wins early in the year. As such, Chastain preached about learning on the fly when the postseason began. With three races under his belt and having advanced into the Round of 12, Chastain is already filling his notebook.

“Well, I learned what not to do in some cases, but really just going in knowing out of 16 guys, we just need to be consistent and roll along,” Chastain said. “We’ve got plenty of speed in our cars; it’s just a matter of finishing.”

Suspension issues put Chastain behind at Darlington Raceway to kick off the playoffs, and he crossed the finish line with a 20th-place finish. But then he knocked down back-to-back top-10 finishes at Kansas Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway without issue.

More importantly, those results were his first top 10s since July, which boosted the team. There was never a concern about pace in Chastain’s Chevrolets, just mistakes and misfortune.

“Hearing the words and hearing the pep talks going into Darlington … after the motivational speech, it’s followed by, ‘Just finish,’” said Chastain. “That’s what it was for me and that’s been my mentality. We’ve been conservative on a lot of things setup-wise and just need to finish, and now it’s reset and three more races. I don’t see that changing. We’re just looking to finish races, and with the race speed we’ve had, we’ll be fine.

“It’s wild to me how normal the weeks have felt. Race day mornings, I’ve felt more nervous for sure. So learning to deal with that and learning to just live in that space. The night races make it worse because it’s a long race day of doing not a whole lot. So learning to deal with that has been challenging, but it’s been kind of cool too.”

Finishing races with no mental mistakes is Chastain’s biggest goal. It’s what Chastain means by driving conservatively, but it also applies to his team. Chastain acknowledged his No. 1 group is not doing anything unnecessary and making sure to keep the air in the tires.

But now, in the heart of the postseason, how long does Chastain weigh the risk versus reward?

“I don’t think that question’s ready to be answered yet,” he said.

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