Another race weekend is in the books, and the driver still being talked about is Ross Chastain. Most would think he'd be getting some praise given how strong a car he had during the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway.
Yet, the Trackhouse Racing driver found himself caught up in another entanglement with a fellow competitor on the track.
Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson wrecked.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) May 14, 2023
This time, the on-track dust-up occurred as Chastain battled Kyle Larson for the lead in the final laps of the Cup race. Both drivers fell short, as they got together and hit the wall — enabling the William Byron to take the checkered flag at Darlington. It was Byron's first win at the track and the first victory for Hendrick Motorsports at the famed Lady in Black since 2012.
Byron's win wasn't the major topic of conversation following the race, however. NASCAR Hall of Fame owner Rick Hendrick fielded plenty of questions in the post-race press conference, and a majority of them were about the incident between Chastain and Larson, who drives the No. 5 car for Hendrick.
Hendrick credited Chastain for being extremely talented but also said the driver of the No. 1 Trackhouse Chevrolet needs to tone down the aggression a little bit, especially if he hopes to ever win a championship.
"I think you can ask any driver in here that he's wrecked or been involved with him," Hendrick said. "He doesn't have to be that aggressive, and I guess at this point in the race maybe you're super aggressive, but you just don't run people up in the fence."
We saw plenty of back-and-forth between Larson and Chastain in the final 30 laps of the race.
Hendrick also wasn't afraid to state how tough it will be for Chastain to win a championship with so many enemies.
"He's going to make a lot of enemies. It's hard to win a championship when you've got a lot of paybacks out there," continued Hendrick, who has 14 titles in the Cup Series as an owner. "With Kyle, this one, and Dover and just Talladega, it's really getting old with these guys."
Chastain just had a pit lane scuffle with Noah Gragson last week at Kansas and has had famously feuded with Denny Hamlin since the 2022 season.
As Hendrick said, Chastain has all the talent in the world and has already proven himself to be a tough competitor — but he could heed Hendrick's words a little bit.
Chastain may need to rethink his aggressiveness a little bit. Once he angers every driver he is racing against for the championship, things are only going to get 10 times harder. We have seen plenty of examples in recent memory of what happens when a driver gets mad about an incident on the track, and then the payback comes at the end of the season. Just look at the Joey Logano-Matt Kenseth feud in 2015.
MORE: "We've Been Able to Laugh About It": Ross Chastain Claims the Drama Is Over Between Him and Noah Gragson
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