NASCAR Cup Series
Justin Marks 'Taking More Active Role' in Guiding Ross Chastain Through Recent Controversies
May 16, 2023
There is no doubt Ross Chastain has been under a microscope and the focus of ire in the NASCAR Cup Series garage for the past year, and it seems things finally came to a head following Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway.
In the closing laps, Chastain and Kyle Larson made contact on back-to-back restarts while battling for the lead, resulting in both cars crashing from the lead and out of contention.
On the radio after the incident, Larson’s crew chief Cliff Daniels called on Chevrolet to get involved. Following the race, team owner Rick Hendrick was direct with his criticism of Chastain but pointed out he has a lot of talent behind the wheel.
“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 or just -- he's not going to -- he's going to make a lot of enemies,” said Hendrick. “It's hard to win a championship when you've got a lot of paybacks out there.”
On Monday, Trackhouse Racing co-owner Justin Marks spoke with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and indicated he would get involved in the situation and take a more active role.
With so much attention focused on his actions, Chastain climbed behind the wheel of a CARS Tour late model at North Wilkesboro and tried to put everything behind him for a few hours.
“It’s just true racing here,” Chastain told Racing America. “It’s really simple, there’s not a lot of people around - there’s a lot of people but they’re all on different teams. There’s not a lot of media with cameras around … It was nice today to just get in the car and drive. It did a lot for me.”
Chastain admitted the conversations being had with Marks and the rest of Trackhouse Racing in the days following Sunday’s incident and comments in the media have not been easy, but they have already been impactful.
“It was tough conversations. It was,” he said. “I’m leaning on my team at Trackhouse and outside to help me through this. I get to live with my decisions I make and I get to live with that for the rest of time.
I’ll learn from it. I’m human. I’m going to make mistakes - I don’t want to make them on that stage or that manner, but I’m going to be better for it.”
Chastain is not the only Cup Series driver at North Wilkesboro, and some of those have had major issues with the Trackhouse Racing driver. Noah Gragson was involved in a post-race scuffle two weekends ago at Kansas Speedway, in which Chastain punched Gragson before security stepped in to break it up.
Gragson told Racing America that Chastain being here did not matter to him, had nothing to do with his efforts this weekend or short track racing, and he was not paying attention to his presence at the track.
For Chastain, the opportunity to run the CARS Tour Window World 125 is simply a way to prepare for Saturday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race and Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race, while attempting to put the recent drama behind him, even just for a few hours.
Photo courtesy Koty Geyer