Trackhouse Racing is riding the adrenaline rush from Ross Chastain’s improbable ride along the wall at Martinsville Speedway right into Sunday’s championship fight.
“How spectacular that was, and just the optics of the commitment that he made is an example of what I’ve been preaching to this company all year long,” team founder Justin Marks said Tuesday. “It’s ‘Let’s think out of the box. Let’s do things differently. Let’s fully commit and full send in whatever it is that we do at this company.’
“So, I agree that getting in that way definitely has a positive impact in this shop because there is not a person in this building that wouldn’t do anything Ross Chastain asked them to do right now. Everybody is so fired up that that kid made that kind of commitment that made that kind of move and carried the company on his shoulders in that moment to get us in. It’s incredibly empowering.”
Marks admitted that there could have been a less dramatic way for Chastain to advance, which would have been just fine too. Chastain could have won some stages or won the race. Instead, running 10th while rival Denny Hamlin ran fifth, he needed two spots on the last lap and took it upon himself to gain those in the most unorthodox and shocking way.
Chastain has gone viral over the last two days. Athletes from other motorsports have weighed in on social media, the highlight was shared on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” and the social media numbers on the video are in the millions.
Trackhouse Racing is also having fun with the moment. Chastain’s car is on display at the race shop for fans to take pictures with, and the narrative around the whole incident has added to the positivity and energy around the race shop for team members.
When the season started, all Marks said he wanted was one car in the playoffs. It ended up that both drivers won races and made the postseason and now one has them competing for a championship. Trackhouse is now playing with house money, and in a way, the season is already a winner.
“One of the things we talk about in the building here is all we want is a chance, and all we want is an opportunity,” Marks said.
Chastain will race for a NASCAR Cup Series champion for the first time and in the same season that he made the playoffs for the first time. Every narrative around Chastain and the organization and why they would fail (inexperience, drivers who hadn’t won or contended before, etc.,) has been smashed like a watermelon after a win.
And for Marks, there is no reason Chastain can’t continue to do the unthinkable and win the championship.
“No,” he said. “Not at all. This is going to be the hardest race of his life. It’s going to be the most pressure-filled race of his life. The pit crew, that last pit stop, is going to be the pit stop of their lives. But we can do it. We have the talent. We have the tools. We have the passion and the hunger to do it. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be really, really hard.
“Chase (Elliott) has been here before. Joey (Logano) has been here before. And Christopher (Bell) is operating at an incredibly high level, and he’s motivated and sitting in a fast race car right now. So, it’s going to be incredibly difficult, but it’s 100% possible. We just have to go execute. We have to execute perfectly and leave it all out there.”