Ross Chastain taking in lessons during his career-best season


DARLINGTON, S.C. — While winning in Cup is new to Ross Chastain, his aggressive driving style isn’t. 

Years ago in the Xfinity Series, Chastain told Justin Marks — a fellow driver who would go on to be Chastain’s boss at Trackhouse Racing — “that he was way too nice to race.” Chastain said that Marks “wasn’t mean enough and he wouldn’t do what he needed to do on track.”

Chastain’s mindset is that he brings his friends to the track instead of races with them. For those being introduced to Chastain through his first two career Cup wins and series-high seven top-five finishes this season, what he’s doing this year is what he’s done in the past when racing in the middle of the pack with lesser teams. 

The difference is that more people watch Chastain now.

They saw his block on Martin Truex Jr. for third on the final lap of Monday’s Cup race at Dover Motor Speedway. Truex wrecked. He then went to Chastain on pit road for a discussion.

Chastain admits he made a mistake in how he raced Truex — earlier in the event but not on the final lap.

“I’d say the mistake was 30 laps before (the finish), not just letting him go and hoping he got by Ricky (Stenhouse Jr., running second) and then I could get by Ricky, too,” Chastain said Friday at Darlington Raceway.

As for the block on the last lap?

“The last lap is the last lap,” Chastain said. “I’m going to race him as hard as I possibly can.” 

For some, the question is why would Chastain, who is assured a playoff spot with his two wins, go so hard for third place late in the race? That’s how he drives. Chastain fits this era where every point matters.

Will his actions at Dover — or the contact he made with AJ Allmendinger on the last lap to win at Circuit of the Americas to win — haunt him later in the season or the playoffs, remains to be seen. 

While Chastain will race hard, he’s sought to be calmer in the car. He’s cited the book “It Takes What it Takes” by Trevor Moawad, a sports psychologist who worked with professional athletes before his death in Sept. 2021, with providing a calming influence. 

Chastain said Friday that he is reading the final book Moawad wrote (“Getting to Neutral”) before his death at age 48.

“I am trying to do better,” Chastain said. “My focus, and the way I have been able to mentally move the needle for myself is getting to neutral and that’s a Trevor Moawad way of thinking.”

Chastain said the books have made an impact.

“That’s been the best way that I can go to sleep and wake up every day knowing that I am trying to better,” Chastain said. “Now, on track there’s been some instances where I am still making those mistakes that I made five years ago, but I am human. I’m going to make those mistakes. 

“So, yeah people are going to say what they are going to say. They’re going to write what they are going to write, right? … I know that I’m trying to do better and the people around me are trying to help me be better. That’s all I can really do.”

His focus this weekend is continuing his strong run this season at Darlington. But he will ease into things when Cup cars practice Saturday, taking a lesson he learned earlier this year in a crash in practice at Auto Club Speedway that forced his team to go to a backup car.

“This may sound a little odd, but I don’t think that there is a more nervous driver driving from Charlotte to Darlington today than me,” Chastain said Friday. “I am nervous to drive on the track (Saturday) in the car because I know how out of control they are. I know how quick they are to wreck.”

He’s learning. Each day provides a new lesson for the 29-year-old who is ascending in the Cup ranks.

NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.