Ross Chastain has a huge target on his back after what went down at World Wide Technology Raceway on June 5.
Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott will both surely be looking for retribution during next week's race at Sonoma Raceway, after Chastain bumped both drivers at different points in the Cup Series race.
Chastain shouldered the blame for the incidents in his post-race interviews, but he wasn't able to get Hamlin to call off any incoming payback.
"It's good that he takes responsibility, but ultimately it ruined our day," Hamlin responded. "We all have learned the hard way. (Chastain) will be no different." Chase Elliott's spotter Eddie D'Hondt was a little less diplomatic in his comments against Chastain. Though, to be fair, they did come in the heat of the moment.
"That kid needs an ass-whooping," D'Hondt said over the radio immediately after Chastain hit Elliott's rear and turned him at lap 103.
Now, I won't go as far as to say that an "ass-whooping" is coming Chastain's way for his racing at WWTR. But, if it did, it wouldn't be the first time he's gotten one for his racing. His violent run-in with Brendan Gaughan following a 2017 Xfinity Series at Texas Motor Speedway particularly comes to mind.
Ross Chastain vs. Brendan Gaughan at Texas Motor Speedway
Ross Chastain's dust-up with Brendan Gaughan went down back in 2017 after the O'Reilly's Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Coming down the backstretch on lap 105, Chastain bumped Gaughan during an attempted pass. Well, Gaughan didn't take too kindly to that, so after the race, he and his crew confronted Chastain about it. That's when all hell broke loose and the fists started flying.
"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 told NBC Sports. "He just came right at me with his guys. There were just swings from that point on."
Chastain suffered a bloody lip and black eye in the exchange. Now, it wasn't exactly clear who punched Chastain in the chaotic melee. When asked by reporters if he threw a right hook during the fight, Gaughan simply responded "I'm a lefty" and walked away. In an interview following the pit road incident, Gaughan, who ran in his last NASCAR race in 2020, didn't seem to express too much remorse about his actions.
"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," Gaughan said. "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."
While Gaughan and his crew's post-race shenanigans seemed over-the-top to begin with, Chastain painted an even-worse picture in an interview several days later, claiming that he was punched in the back of the head and that a crew member for his teammate Garrett Smithley had to be hospitalized after he also sustained a back-of-the-head punch.
In his lengthy explanation of the incident, it sounds like Chastain was the victim of an old-school jumping.
"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."
"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 later reviewed the incident and seemingly resolved the feud between the two drivers.
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