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Rick Hendrick Frustrated With Ross Chastain; Allegiance to Chevrolet Will Not Stop Hendrick Drivers From Retaliating

Rick Hendrick Ross Chastain Retaliation Hendrick Motorsports Kyle Larson Feud
Rick Hendrick Ross Chastain Retaliation Hendrick Motorsports Kyle Larson Feud
Rick Hendrick is the latest person to voice frustration with Ross Chastain after Chastain crashed with Kyle Larson near the end of Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington.

Aggression, it’s a high-wire balancing act. If you’re too aggressive and you step over the line, you’ll crash yourself, or your competitors out of a race. Or in many instances, you’ll accomplish both. If you do it enough, you’ll become so villainous that you’ll be the target of retaliation until your victims feel the scores are all settled.

On the flip side, if you’re not aggressive enough, you very well could go your entire career without reaching victory lane.

Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot where legends are made. After Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway, it’s clear that Ross Chastain is still trying to find that sweet spot.

On his quest to get there, Chastain has piled up more enemies than he has race wins, and now he’s gained a new one in Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports.

In the closing laps of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Darlington, Chastain went over the edge of aggression and slid up into Kyle Larson, who drives the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro for Hendrick Motorsports, while battling for the win. Both drivers went hard into the wall. In an instant, the top-two runners in the race had no chance at a race win.

This latest crash marks the third time in the last couple of months that Larson has been swept up in an incident that was started by Chastain, and Hendrick says he’s had enough of it.

“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 continued by saying, “This one, and Dover, and Talladega — it’s really getting old with these guys.”

Hendrick, who is usually very calm, cool, and collected when he appears in the NASCAR Cup Series garage, didn’t hold back in his post-race press conference following William Byron’s race win in the Goodyear 400. Hendrick says nobody is immune from retaliation from his drivers and teams, not even Chastain and Trackhouse Racing — a fellow Chevrolet team.

“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.”

Hendrick says that he hopes it doesn’t have to come to his drivers settling the score, and that ultimately Justin Marks, Trackhouse Racing’s team owner, should have a word with Chastain before things get worse.

While he’s critical of the on-track incidents, which have swept up his drivers, Hendrick is also clear that he believes Chastain is a championship-caliber driving talent, he just wants him to stop piling up enemies.

“Well, I would think Justin [Marks] would have a conversation, and say, ‘It’s going to be hard,’ again if you have a lot of people wanting to pay you back, then it’s hard to win a championship that way. And he has enough talent to do that,” Hendrick explained. “But we don’t want to get knocked out. If you look at the points that Larson has lost because of that and the race today, you just can’t — I think somewhere in the stages he was all over Larson. We can’t — the drivers have to settle that.”

Hendrick says that he draws a lot of parallels between Chastain’s on-track issues with the issues his former driver Geoff Bodine experienced with Dale Earnhardt back in the 1980s. However, Hendrick says when Earnhardt was wrecking Bodine, he was only really wrecking Bodine.

Hendrick says that Chastain is wrecking a who’s who list of top drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series on a weekly basis, and if he doesn’t stop, someone is going to have to stop it. Whether it be NASCAR stepping in, drivers opting to wipe Chastain out on track, or perhaps someone finishing what Noah Gragson attempted to start a couple of weeks ago at Kansas Speedway with their fists.

Hell, it may even end up being a crew chief that takes care of things. Immediately following Sunday’s crash, Larson’s crew chief Cliff Daniels cued the team radio and said, “Why did he just run us right into the fence? How does that make any sense? That’s three races now that he’s taken us out of, Chevrolet. Good job. Good job. That’s three races that that 1 car has taken us out of.”

However it ends, you just know something is coming for Chastain. It’s a pressure cooker just waiting to pop. Chastain has pissed off too many other drivers for it to not happen. The question is what is going to happen, and how many more of these moments of Chastain skipping over the edge is it going to take for someone to finally break?

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3 Responses

  1. Stop your whining. I bet Mr. Hendrick would never say that to Dale senior because he would tell him what he could do with his race team. And his drivers aren’t angels.

  2. In spite of a select few drivers/owners who had a “private chat” with Chastain — he fails to heed the messages. Apparently his degree of intellect is a low-bar? Even the worst attitudes of the past learned how to gain trust, etc. Not so however with Chastain (nor Logano, still).

    Seems everyone on-the-air (and sports writers) missed The Message from Dale Jarrett in the pre-race conversation with Chastain…

    At the very end of the segment Chastain said, “I’m very honored to drive this paint scheme today” (it was Jarrett’s ‘throwback car’)..

    To which Jarrett hollered over to Ross — staring straight into his eyes — “Then do the right thing with it”.

    Obviously, Chastain did not.

  3. I wouldn’t mind if the usual Aholes in the booth (Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer) would stop defending the idiot-factor(s) on the track.

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