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It Was The World vs. Ross Chastain at Gateway

"You have to fence these kids hard and the lesson has to be meaningful."


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This was a day Ross Chastain wishes he could have back.

All of it.

The typically unapologetic driver of the Trackhouse Racing No. 1 effectively apologized to everyone after the Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Chastain drew the ire of multiple drivers at the former Gateway Motorsports Park on Sunday afternoon. He ran into the back of Denny Hamlin on Lap 65 and sent the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 into the wall and with a broken toe link. The same thing happened to Chase Elliott and the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 team on Lap 102.

Even eventual race winner Joey Logano had a lesser publicized run in with Chastain but there was a common theme.

"He got in the back of me in the three when we were three-wide, but I think he just drove in the corner a little hard," Logano said. "I don't think it was anything intentional. We were racing really hard, and I checked up because I was three-wide on the bottom, and I think he just over-drove the corner and got in the back of me. No harm, no foul."

Hamlin and Elliott were not as forgiving as Logano since they didn’t end up in Victory Lane.

On the lap 107 restart, Elliott, Chastain and Hamlin lined up nose to tail at the back of the field. Elliott tagged Chastain, resulting in Hamlin spending the next several laps blocking Chastain as he attempted to reach minimum speed while on the damaged vehicle policy.

This came several runs after Hamlin also spent a lap or two blocking Chastain at speed.

"I just thought he was being aggressive," Hamlin said. "He got inside us and kept trying to slide us, right into the door for three laps in a row. And finally tucked right in behind us and took us out. It's the choices you make."

Chastain took responsibility for all of it.

"I owe half the field an apology," Chastain said. "And words aren’t going to fix it, so I’ll have to pay for it on the track and almost did today. And I deserve everything that they do. I just can’t believe that I continue to make the same mistakes and overdrive the corners and drive into guys.

"I had time under caution to get reset, and we go green and I drive into somebody again. That’s terrible."

Hamlin says the apology isn’t enough at this point, and as Chastain himself anticipates, the perceived misdeeds will get repaid later this season.

"I mean, it’s good he takes responsibility,” Hamlin said. “But, you know, ultimately, it ruined our day. … The unfortunate part is it didn’t look like he got too shy after that, because I believe he hit (Elliott) after that one, but yeah, you just … we all have learned the hard way, and we’ve all had to have it come back around on us and it’ll be no different."

Chase Elliott indicated this was the only warning Chastain will get -- not to race him that way the rest of the year. Hamlin rejects that notion too.

"You have to do more than that, there are no warnings," Hamlin said. "When you make decisions like that repeatedly and don't check yourself and realize 'hey, I'm being too aggressive,' that's his decision to make. He can make whatever decisions he wants to make.

"He's his own guy and he's been very successful doing it, but ultimately, this sport is self policing, and typically it comes back to get you when you least expect it."

Hamlin says he doesn't know when that will be and isn't necessarily saying he plans to make Chastain pay during the playoffs, but he is saying a lesson needs to be learned.

"You have to fence these guys hard, they have to learn the hard way," Hamlin said. "And it has to be meaningful."