Ross Chastain: 'It's Freaking Awesome' to be a Cup Contender

The Trackhouse Racing No. 1 led the most laps on Sunday at Las Vegas.


hero image for Ross Chastain: 'It's Freaking Awesome' to be a Cup Contender

Ross Chastain kept his perspective in check on pit road after coming up short in the Pennzoil 400 on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

While a two-tire gambit permitted Alex Bowman to celebrate potentially at the expensive of his four-tire decision, and with Kyle Busch simmering at what should have been, Chastain was ecstatic. There was a time where Chastain would have considered leading 83 laps in a single Cup Series race the pinnacle of his career but Trackhouse is working to make it a new normal.

One week after teammate Daniel Suárez provided Trackhouse its best finish with a fourth-place result at Auto Club Speedway, Chastain bested it with a third place at Las Vegas. Like Suárez the week before, Chastain had a chance to send the second-year organization to Victory Lane in the closing laps but came up just short.

Chastain took the lead on Lap 113, earning the first stage win in company history by the halfway point of the race, and continued to lead until Busch took the position from him on Lap 227. Chastain continued to run inside the top-five and joined Busch on four tires behind the Hendrick Motorsports trio of Bowman, Kyle Larson and William Byron in the decisive overtime.

He had a chance to win.

"Oh yeah, we did," Chastain said after the race. "We took the bottom, had choice and felt like that was the shortest way around the track with the fewest number of cars on old tires in front of me.

"I think we played our cards right. I gave a little too much on pit road, but I just wasn't going to speed on pit road. I wasn't going to make that mistake. I thought we had a chance for sure."

With Trackhouse contending for the win in back-to-back races on intermediate tracks, it’s easy to start thinking about the organization as a dark horse Championship 4 threat, but Chastain said there is still work to be done.

"There is a lot we’re trying to figure out," Chastain said. "We were leading and driving away from the field and at one point, thought we had a tire going down because the bumps were so aggressive. These cars are still a handful and we’re trying to get a better handle on them. I felt like we could have wrecked at any moment."

But Chastain is proud of what his new team is building.

"I just want to compete," Chastain said. "It doesn’t matter if we’re racing Cup cars or wheelbarrows. The competition is what I’m about and were building something special at Trackhouse. The vision that Justin Marks has laid out for us is incredible.

"And he’s given me and Daniel just this incredible confidence to go race, Chevrolet too."

With that said, was he even the slightest point disappointed that he didn’t close out on the win?

"This is freaking awesome," Chastain said. "Are you kidding me? I was out there leading. Even running third, I was thinking ‘I can’t believe this,’ but hopefully we can keep this up and it can start to feel normal."