Ross Chastain

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Ross Chastain gives his side of Brendan Gaughan tangle, says he was hit in back of head

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The war of words that followed the scuffle between Ross Chastain and Brendan Gaughan after Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Texas continued Tuesday morning.

Gaughan gave his side of the incident on Sunday during the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio “Fantasy Racing Preview” show, which he co-hosts.

Tuesday, Chastain appeared on TMD and said he was hit several times by Gaughan and several members of his team, including being blindsided and punched at least once in the back of the head.

Chastain also revealed that a crew member for teammate Garrett Smithley – which Chastain did not identify – was punched in the back of the head and taken to a local hospital. Chastain said the crew member was back in the shop working Tuesday.

Here’s Chastain’s side of the story:

“When we pulled down off the track, for some reason we pulled behind victory lane, which didn’t help things because it was dark and no lights back there,” Chastain said. “As I was getting out of the car, I was kind of surprised to see him (Gaughan) and a legion of RCR guys. I thought there was only a couple when I first looked.

“By the time he had me by the neck, I was still coming out of the car with my feet in my race seat and I was sitting on the door, I realized there was about 20 guys there surrounded us, and I had three guys at the time.

“It was ugly. It was not something that was pretty to think back on. They definitely had the numbers and it showed. I had a couple guys from the 0 car (Smithley) jump in to help, and I’m thankful for that.

“They really did keep me and my guys from probably getting hurt to any extent.”

Chastain thought things had ended at that point, only to see them resume.

“We thought we had it calmed down and I got hit in the back of the head and taken down into a golf cart and rolled around a lot,” Chastain said. “I don’t know if it was just fists or stomped on a little bit. That’s pretty scary stuff. Definitely had a lot of things going through my mind at that point on how to get out of that situation.

“But a lot of things flash before your eyes when that’s happening. Luckily, some of my guys came back, realized where I was at because we all got separated there in the darkness and the crowd of people, and got me out of that situation. That was relieving to see their faces. That was pretty much it there.

“A lot happened real quick and definitely not impressed by the amount of people that came down there with Brendan and went to wailing. I got hit in the back of my head and one of the 0 guys did, as well.

“It’s some scary stuff, for sure. I’m glad the cameras weren’t there because that’s not the kind of publicity the sport needs at all. I’m all for arguments and stuff, but it was ugly and that’s not something I want people seeing.”

NASCAR officials called both drivers to the hauler after the incident, but officials did not make any statements regarding the two drivers.

Of his tangle with Chastain, Gaughan said on SiriusXM, “It isn’t the first issue that we’ve had and the first issue that others have had (with Chastain), and I finally just had enough. Should I have done something differently? Maybe, but at this point in my life, I’m kind of to the (point of) don’t care.”

Brendan Gaughan on issue with Ross Chastain: ‘I finally just had enough’

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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FORT WORTH, Texas — Brendan Gaughan admits  he could have handled his disagreement with Ross Chastain after Saturday night’s Xfinity race differently but said Sunday “at this point in my life, I’m kind of to the (point of) don’t care.’’

Gaughan and Chastain were involved in a scuffle after the race. Both were called to the NASCAR hauler and met with series officials.

Gaughan deflected questions about the scuffle after leaving the hauler. Sunday morning, he spoke about the incident on the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio “Fantasy Racing Preview” show he co-hosts.

“Texas is tough,’’ Gaughan said on the show. “With the night race, the groove narrowed down. It isn’t the first issue that we’ve had and the first issue that others have had (with Chastain), and I finally just had enough. Should I have done something differently? Maybe, but at this point in my life I’m kind of to the (point of) don’t care.’’

Chastain said after the race that issues started when he and Gaughan were racing together.

“There was a slow car we were passing on the backstretch and (Gaughan) tried to split the middle,’’ Chastain said. “I wasn’t going to let him because it’s so much track position, there was clean track in front of us. We stayed side-by-side into (Turn) 3. I tried to arc from the bottom, and he tried to pinch me.

“I got really loose, saved it. All good. From then on, he was out to wreck me. My spotter could tell. (Gaughan) tried to get me in (Turns) 1 and 2.

“That’s just not acceptable. The speeds we’re going, we’ve seen guys get upside down in the catch fence on purpose before. I do not want to collect on my life insurance policy at 24 years old. That was my biggest thing in the (NASCAR) trailer, that I was upset with that needed to be taken care of.’’

Chastain said Gaughan approached him as he was exiting his car behind pit road after the race.

“I was just getting out of the car and was sitting on the door and was getting ready to swing my legs out and there he was,’’ Chastain said of Gaughan. “He just came right at me with his guys. There were just swings from that point on.’’

Said Gaughan on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “These millennials, they love to talk and text. I believe in this. This was taught to me by Butch Miller and Parnelli Jones, by some of the old greats, that if you have a problem, you make sure you get eye-to-eye contact, let them know you’ve got a problem, let them know it was intentional, accidental, whatever.’’

Gaughan said he’s heard from other competitors after the incident.

“I’ve got a lot of text messages from a lot of our peers that seem to be happy,’’ Gaughan said.

“There’s a lot of guys that don’t see eye-to-eye with Ross.’’

Chastain admits he might not be the most popular in the garage but also notes he’s not going after a popularity title.

“I race hard,’’ Chastain said. “I understand that. I know I make drivers mad. I know I make crew chiefs mad, guys thinking that I don’t get out of the way enough. It’s really hard out there to get out of the way. It’s hard for me to do that and go back to (sponsor) Flex Seal and tell them I did 100 percent and I tried to get the best finish.’’

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NASCAR meets with Brendan Gaughan, Ross Chastain after scuffle

Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway
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FORT WORTH, Texas — NASCAR met with drivers Ross Chastain and Brendan Gaughan after they were involved in a scuffle following Saturday night’s Xfinity race at Texas Motor Speedway.

The incident happened behind pit road and victory lane where non-playoff cars parked after the race.

“I was just getting out of the car and was sitting on the door and was getting ready to swing my legs out and there he was,’’ Chastain said of Gaughan. “He just came right at me with his guys. There were just swings from that point on.’’

Gaughan declined to discuss the incident when asked about it. Asked if he threw a right hook, Gaughan said: “I’m a lefty” and walked away.

Chastain said “there were no cameras (of the incident) … it would make me look better if there was, but, unfortunately, I’m sure there wasn’t for the start. Some derogatory things were said beyond just cuss words.’’

Chastain wouldn’t say what was said to him.

Chastain said what happened on track led to the off-track incident.

“There was a slow car we were passing on the backstretch and (Gaughan) tried to split the middle,’’ Chastain said. “I wasn’t going to let him because it’s so much track position, there was clean track in front of us. We stayed side-by-side into (Turn) 3. I tried to arc from the bottom, and he tried to pinch me.

“I got really loose, saved it. All good. From then on, he was out to wreck me. My spotter could tell. (Gaughan) tried to get me in (Turns) 1 and 2.

“That’s just not acceptable. The speeds we’re going, we’ve seen guys get upside down in the catch fence on purpose before. I do not want to collect on my life insurance policy at 24 years old. That was my biggest thing in the (NASCAR) trailer, that I was upset with that needed to be taken care of.

“The off-the-track stuff, hey, I’ll go out anywhere and do what we need to do to defend myself and my crew. The on-track is unacceptable at 180 mph.’’

NASCAR had no comment on the matter. It continues to investigate the incident after speaking to both drivers and others involved.

Gaughan finished 17th. Chastain finished 19th.

In April, Chastain punched Jeremy Clements during a red flag in the Xfinity race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Chastain said he reacted with a punch when Clements grabbed him from behind and spun him around.

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Erik Jones dominates to win Xfinity race at Texas again, Sadler now No. 1 in points

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NASCAR Cup regular Erik Jones showed the eight remaining NASCAR Xfinity Series championship contenders how it’s done, winning Saturday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Jones won his second consecutive Xfinity race (and third in his career) at TMS, dominating throughout the night, starting from the pole and leading 142 of the race’s 200 laps, including winning Stage 1 and Stage 2. Jones, who also won April’s Xfinity race at TMS, has made six career Xfinity starts there. Including his three wins, he has an average finish there of 2.2.

“It’s sure been a good place for me, just been a place I’ve enjoyed coming to,” Jones told NBCSN. “First time I came here in a Truck, I never thought I’d like the place. But since then, it’s just kind of clicked for me.”

Jones led most of the race, but gave up the lead when he and most of the other drivers pitted for fuel on Lap 185, 15 laps from the finish.

Jones then worked his way back up to the front, regaining the advantage on Lap 192 when Ty Dillon was forced to pit for fuel. From that point on, it was a drag race to the finish between Jones and Ryan Blaney, with Jones reaching the start-finish line first. It was Jones’ third Xfinity win in 17 starts this season.

Blaney finished second, followed by Kyle Larson, Elliott Sadler and Cole Custer. Sadler moves into first place in the Xfinity standings.

This was the second of three races in the Round of 8 semifinal round. With Jones’ win tonight and Christopher Bell’s win at Kansas, that means at least three of the four finalists for the championship race at Miami in two weeks will qualify on points.

MORE: Results from Saturday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 Xfinity race at Texas

MORE: Xfinity standings: Elliott Sadler now No. 1, takes big step closer to first title

STAGE WINNERS: Erik Jones (Stage 1), Erik Jones (Stage 2)

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: With a fourth-place finish, Elliott Sadler moves into first place in the standings. Sadler leads William Byron by five points, Justin Allgaier by nine and Brennan Poole by 24. … Cole Custer bounced back from a cut tire early and also rallied from one lap down to finish fifth and helped improve himself in the standings. He was eighth coming into tonight’s race. He leaves Texas in sixth, 13 points shy of the cutoff line heading to Phoenix. … Matt Tifft is five points below the cutoff line, followed by Custer, Daniel Hemric (-18) and Ryan Reed (-33).

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ryan Reed had a disappointing 23rd-place finish. Given that he’s 33 points below the cutoff line and 62 points behind Sadler, Reed is in a must-win situation at Phoenix if he hopes to make the championship race in Miami. … Brandon Jones suffered a hard hit on the restart on Lap 61.

NOTABLE: NASCAR met with Ross Chastain and Brendan Gaughan because of a post-race scuffle that involved them.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We came to Texas with a plan and tried to do some stuff for Homestead. … I’m just living the dream. I had so much fun tonight. All in all, it was a great night for us.” – Elliott Sadler, who takes over the Xfinity points lead.

WHAT’S NEXT: Ticket Galaxy 200; Saturday, Nov. 11, 3:30 p.m. ET; Phoenix Raceway.

Xfinity Series Spotlight: Sam Hornish Jr.

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For a quarter century Sam Hornish Jr. tried off and on to win at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The circuit is located roughly 130 miles southeast of where he grew up in Defiance, Ohio.

Hornish started racing at the road course in his early teens. But it wasn’t until August 12, at the age of 38, that he finally conquered it in an Xfinity Series race.

In his fourth series start there, driving the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske, Hornish led 61 laps from his third pole at the track to earn the win.

“The fact that I was able to do that this year with my wife and kids there, my in-laws and a bunch of other people that have supported me for a long time by coming out to races, that hadn’t got the opportunity to see me win a stock car race in person, that was pretty cool,” Hornish told NBC Sports.

Only a part-time driver, it was Hornish’s second Xfinity win in two seasons (nine starts) and his fifth overall.

But his celebration in August was different from when he was 25 and winning the 2006 Indianapolis 500.

“I had some friends from Indiana that were there who had cooked us some pork tacos earlier in the day before the race started,” Hornish said. “They made me two for after the race. We sat and talked for about 15 or 20 minutes, loaded up the motorhome and drove home and got home by 11:30. Got up and went to church in the morning. … It’s more of a relief now to win than it is sometimes a celebration, especially one that I wanted as badly as I wanted to win as Mid-Ohio. I just tried to enjoy the moment going through victory lane, hugging the kids, enjoying that with them because I know there’s probably not a ton of those left.”

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NBC Sports: What’s your earliest vivid memory related to auto racing?

Hornish: A lot of times, you’ve seen so much racing you’re not sure if, ‘was I really there for that or do I just remember it this way?’ One of the biggest things I’ve always thought about was seeing Danny Sullivan’s spin and win at the Indianapolis 500 (in 1985). The big part of that was … most kids …  you see a lot of racing, and you’re almost kind of waiting for the wreck. It’s a little bit more drama than the cars just going around the track. I remember seeing him spin and you’re like, ‘he’s going to wreck’ and then he comes out of it and he wins the race. You’re like, ‘wow, how cool was that?’ That just showed how close they were to the edge, even somebody that was good enough, had a good enough car to win the race, was that on edge that the big mistake almost happened.

NBC Sports: When was the first time you met Roger Penske?

Hornish: I’m sure that I had time where I talked to him about it or had talked to him previously (about) this. But I was about 12 years old and to kind of pay for my racing or learn things I washed trucks at my mom and dad’s company after school. I had a dream one night Roger came pulling up in this big motorhome. He wanted me to come race for him. I remember waking up and going, ‘yeah right, like that’s ever going to happen.’

I was 22 years old when I first started talking to him about the opportunity to come race for him. About 10 years for that to come to fruition. I remember probably the first time I sat down to talk to him was at his offices up in Detroit. I can’t remember exactly all that we talked about. It was a long time ago and to think at this point in time growing up thinking I would never have the opportunity to probably even meet Roger, but to have gotten to work for him for almost a decade and to have the opportunity of having him wish me a Merry Christmas or call me out of the blue to see what I was up to cause he hadn’t seen me at the track in a while. Lot of really cool people over the course of the years, but Roger was definitely about as good to me as anybody could be.

NBC Sports: What’s the most fun race you’ve ever been part of?

Hornish: There was probably in the go-kart days, there was a lot of times we’d go up to Canada and race up there. They really didn’t like me that much because it seemed like I won a lot when I went up there. So it was like they were always looking for something to pick a part, like ‘oh, your rear axles are 1/36th of an inch too wide, so you get disqualified from the heat race’ and I’d have to start from the back of the feature. That happened a couple of times at their grand nationals. I remember a couple of years in a row, they found some little thing to basically disqualify us from our heat race and have to start at the back of the feature. Come from like 32nd to win the race in basically a kart sprint race of 30 laps. I’d say those are probably some of the funnest times that I had, just because in karts you’re doing it a lot more for just the love of the sport as opposed to trying to make a living at it.

NBC Sports: What was your first car?

Hornish: My first car was a truck. I had a Chevy short bed, 1500 two-wheel drive, stick shift pickup my dad wanted me to get. It’s kind of funny, because with the exception of my Corvette that I got for winning the Indianapolis 500, it’s the only other red car I’ve had in my entire life. … I remember I drove that truck harder than I probably ever drove that Corvette I got for winning the Indianapolis 500. Just because I was 16 and doing burnouts and sliding around in the stones and stuff like that. My dad had decided I should get a manual truck because he knew if I was going to be racing, I needed to be very proficient in shifting properly.

NBC Sports: Do you still have that Corvette?

Hornish: I still have the Corvette, yeah. It’s very low-mileage. I think I got 1,100 miles on it now.

Sam Hornish Jr. after winning the 2006 Indianapolis 500. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

NBC Sports: How often do you take it out?

Hornish: About once every couple of years. Something always happens when I take it out. I either get a speeding ticket. I had an issue with one of the body panels coming off of it. With the Corvette, it’s got a molded body panel that’s the roof. There’s a structural support underneath it that’s the roll cage. … I got a recall (notice) for paint delamination on the roof. I thought, ‘it’s paint delamination. I don’t drive enough for the paint to come off.’

We were having a Halloween party for the kids so I was cleaning the garage out and took it down off the lift and went to clean it out, drive it around the street and get the fuel burned out of it, keep the injectors and everything clean. Got up to second gear and I heard this big pop and the body panel on the roof came off. I had to go get that replaced. That’s a little bit different than what I thought paint delamination meant. I didn’t know it meant a painted part was going to come off. They were like, ‘Well, we don’t really know. We haven’t seen that one before.’

NBC Sports: What’s the best advice or criticism you’ve received in your career?

Hornish: I had one my friends tell me, it was pretty early into when I went back down to the Xfinity Series back in 2012. We were actually having a beer talking about racing or whatever. He said, ‘let me tell you something. You’re too damn good to have some of the problems you’re having’ (laughs). I said, ‘what do you mean?’ He’s like, ‘if they give you a car that’s 35th and you bring it home 35th, you did all that you could do. If they give you car that’s a 15th-place car and you try to make it a first-place car and you end up 35th, that’s on you. So you got to be smart about taking what you have that day, trying to maximize, getting a little bit more out of it and you move on to the next day.’ I think if I had had that a little bit sooner and taken some of the weight off my own shoulders of thinking I was going to carry the car when it wasn’t right, I probably would have had some more opportunities.

Previous Spotlights

Justin Allgaier

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Michael Annett

Ryan Reed

Brandon Jones

Daniel Hemric

William Byron

Spencer Gallagher

Cole Custer

Ross Chastain

Elliott Sadler

Ben Kennedy

Blake Koch

Brennan Poole

Matt Tifft

Tyler Reddick

Kyle Benjamin

Ty Majeski

Ryan Sieg

Dakoda Armstrong

Brendan Gaughan

Garrett Smithley

J.J. Yeley

Harrison Rhodes

James Davison

Jeremy Clements

David Starr

Austin Cindric

Christopher Bell

Jeff Green

Casey Mears