Ross Chastain possesses an aggressiveness on the racetrack that's up there with the likes of Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Sr., and many other NASCAR Hall of Famers. He might not be too popular with his fellow competitors — and Sunday at Kansas Speedway was a prime example of that, when he was confronted by Noah Gragson after the race.
That confrontation didn't turn out very well for Gragson, as he ended up getting clocked by a punch from Chastain before the two were separated. Gragson said afterward that he was "sick and tired" of Chastain's aggressiveness. Gragson joins a list that includes Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, and Brennan Poole, who have all had run-ins with the driver of the No. 1 car this season. Plus, who can forget all the issues between Chastain and Hamlin from last year?
Ross Chastain may be controversial, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a positive spin on the hooplah surrounding the Trackhouse Racing driver. He discussed how he truly sees what Chastain does on the racetrack on the latest episode of The Dale Jr. Download podcast. He compares Chastain's driving to that of his own father, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. The seven-time Cup champion was proudly known as "The Intimidator" for a reason, because he rubbed a lot of drivers the wrong way — but backed up his aggressiveness with victories.
"Dad was out there doing real similar things on the racetrack," Junior said. "He flat-out dumped people and would get out. He wouldn't really apologize for it as much as Ross does, but he would get out and say, 'Hey man, I don't know what you're talking about. That wasn't dirty driving. I got into him. My mistake.'"
Earnhardt added that he sees a perfect marketing opportunity for NASCAR, Trackhouse Racing, and Chastain himself.
"People around Dale Earnhardt around '86, '87, up to the '90s, those people around him, they capitalized on his on-track actions," Earnhardt said. "They created a persona, through marketing, through souvenirs, that went nationwide, if not global."
The nicknames "The Intimidator" and the "Man in Black" first showed up on hats and T-shirts. It wasn't just something Dale Sr. himself came up with; marketing and fans made it what it was.
"That was a marketing campaign. That was a T-shirt, that was a hat, that took off. It became a persona," Earnhardt Jr. said.
Clearly, NASCAR and Chastain have something to follow, because he is getting under the skin of the rest of the drivers in the Cup Series. He's rattling cages. And we all know how things played out for the last guy who rattled cages, with seven series championships and a number of impactful moments along the way. Chastain isn't Dale Earnhardt Sr., but he sure has a chance to be just like "The Intimidator."
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