Ross Chastain is quickly gaining a reputation in the NASCAR Cup Series. Sure, amongst his competitors, Chastain is probably seen as a little over-aggressive. While that has been a major talking point over the last couple of seasons, that's not what I'm talking about. Not at all.
Chastain has become a guy that you simply can't ever count out.
No matter how far down and out the 30-year-old racer looks during a race weekend, unless the motor in his car has stopped running for the day and NASCAR has officially ruled him out of the race, Chastain is still in contention.
The Florida native showcased it again in Sunday's EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas.
Chastain, who had positioned himself near the front of the field in the closing portion of the event, found absolute disaster with nine laps remaining in the race.
After being dropped in the running order due to a sluggish pit stop under caution, Chastain spun and suffered massive rear-end damage in a chain-reaction pileup in a lap 60 restart, and his car appeared to be permanently stalled in Turn 1.
However, as it looked like his car was about to be put on the hook, Chastain was able to get the car re-fired. But there was no way he'd still manage to produce a decent finish. Right?
This is the same guy that pulled off the "Hail Melon" video game move at Martinsville Speedway last fall to advance to the Championship 4 when it looked like all hope was lost.
Sure enough, just as quickly as you mentally wrote him off, Chastain was able to pull off another round of late-race heroics in Austin, Texas.
Now, he was aided tremendously by a rash of accidents in the closing laps, which actually led to three overtime finish attempts, but Chastain somehow came home with a fourth-place finish.
The hard-nosed racer was elated to walk out of COTA with a top finish.
"When we got spun, I think we restarted down at Niece Equipment south of town," Chastain joked following the race. "To come back to a top five was a top effort for our Worldwide Express team."
While Chastain was happy about his finish, there will probably be a little bit of awkwardness in the Trackhouse team meeting this week. On his path to finishing fourth, Chastain raised the ire of his Trackhouse Racing teammate Daniel Suarez in a Lap 68 incident that sent Suarez spinning from the top five.
It led to some post-race bumping from Suarez and an animated discussion between the two on pit road after the race.
While Chastain will certainly need to patch some things up with his teammate, it's become abundantly clear that Chastain fears no other driver -- not even his own teammate -- in a close-quarters tight battle late in a scrappy race like Sunday's contest at COTA.
In fact, Chastain not only seems to thrive in these situations, he seemingly almost always ends up on the winning side of pushing and shoving matches on track.
As the legendary Dale Earnhardt once said about these kinds of situations, "You stand your ground. A lot of times it comes out bad, but a lot of times you win races, too."
Chastain may only have two NASCAR Cup Series wins on his resumé currently, but with his level of aggression, and his never-say-die attitude, expect to see the driver of the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 reach victory lane more and more often.
Photo by Tim Parks/HHP for Chevy Racing