After another race weekend with a cloud of controversy hovering over Ross Chastain, Trackhouse Racing will finally be stepping in to correct some of the miscalculations that Chastain has been making on the race track.
On Monday, Trackhouse Racing team owner Justin Marks stopped by SiriusXM NASCAR Radio to address his driver’s latest miscue, which led to the No. 1 Trackhouse Chevrolet crashing into Kyle Larson, for the third time in about a month’s time, Sunday at Darlington.
The sad thing for Marks is that up until the unfortunate step over the edge by Chastain late in the Goodyear 400, he feels that his driver had performed a nearly flawless race.
“Great speed out of the car, great pit stops all day. Ross drove a great race,” Marks explained. “I mean, he made good decisions in the first and second Stages in not racing guys super hard. Letting a couple of people go. Kind of like just sort of managing that give and take and everything, and then it all just kind of fell apart at the end.”
Marks says that Chastain was so close to “legendary status,” which would have been achieved had he won Darlington throwback weekend just a week after punching Noah Gragson in a post-race confrontation at Kansas Speedway. But instead, Chastain skidded into Larson, ruining both drivers’ chances at a race win.
As a result, Marks understands Chastain has built a pile of enemies, and he feels it’s time that Chastain takes a good, hard look at what has been transpiring during races in the NASCAR Cup Series.
At the end of the day, Chastain had a shot to win Darlington, and instead of winning, he ended with about the worst possible outcome as he crashed a fellow Chevrolet driver.
“The result was just bad. It looked bad for everybody,” Marks admitted. “It was bad for Hendrick. It was bad for Chevrolet. And it was bad for Trackhouse and Ross as the points leader. This has been my life today. We have addressed it. We have had many conversations with people today, some, difficult conversations.”
Marks, who says he will personally take an active role in helping Chastain temper his aggression level, says that he and his Trackhouse Racing team remain steadfast in their support of Chastain, and they know deep in their hearts that he can become a champion at the NASCAR Cup Series level someday.
“The important message here is that we are a believer in Ross’ talent. That’s obvious. He’s very fast,” Marks stated. “But he’s got some things he’s got to clean up. I mean, I’ll just be totally honest with you. And today, we started a process of more aggressively handling that with our partners, with Ross, and with our team. Not because necessarily we’re mad at him, but because there is so much opportunity here.”
Here is a clip of Marks’ appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio:
While @JustinMarksTH belief in @RossChastain’s talent remains unchanged, he says this latest incident at Darlington is cause for concern.
🗣️ “He’s got some things he’s got to clean up. We, today, started a process of more aggressively handling that.” #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/Pu8qcc9s4n
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) May 15, 2023
The comments from Marks come a day after Rick Hendrick, Larson’s team owner, clearly stated that he has had enough of Chastain’s antics resulting in crashed race cars for his drivers.
The usually cool, and calm Hendrick, didn’t mince words when it came to Chastain on Sunday evening in his post-race press conference at Darlington Raceway.
“I think you can ask any driver in here that he’s wrecked or been involved with, and he doesn’t have to be that aggressive,” Hendrick said. “At this point in the race, maybe, you’re super aggressive. But you don’t just don’t run people up into the fence. He’s going to make a lot of enemies, and it’s hard to win a championship when you have a lot of paybacks out there.”
Hendrick would go on to say that while Chastain and Trackhouse Racing are under the Chevrolet banner like Hendrick Motorsports, the team owner has already explained to his manufacturer that Chastain has some of his own medicine coming back from the drivers at HMS.
“I don’t care if he’s driving a Chevrolet if he wrecks our cars. I don’t care, and I told Chevrolet that. If you wreck us, you’re going to get it back,” Hendrick pointed sharply. “And if you don’t do it, they’ll run all over you. I’m loyal to Chevrolet, but when somebody runs over us, then I expect our guys to hold their ground. I don’t expect them to yield because of Chevrolet.”
Will the fact that Marks is publicly acknowledging Chastain’s over-aggressive nature has become a detriment, and stating that the team is actively working on helping him hone the balance between being too aggressive and too passive, calm Hendrick? That remains to be seen, but Chastain needs to probably give the Hendrick drivers a little extra room at North Wilkesboro this weekend.