NASCAR Cup Series owner Rick Hendrick shared some tough words directed at Ross Chastain following the conclusion of the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday.
During a post-race press conference after William Byron took home the checkered flag, Hendrick was asked, “Has Ross Chastain crossed a line?”
Hendrick responded, “I think you can ask any driver that he’s wrecked or been involved with him. He doesn’t have to be that aggressive. And I guess at this point in the race maybe you’re super aggressive. You just don’t run people up in the fence.”
“He’s going to make a lot of enemies,” Hendrick continued. “It’s hard to win a championship when you’ve got a lot of paybacks out there.”
The NASCAR Cup Series owner then said, “He’s got so much talent. I think if he just calmed down… There’s a time to race. Dale Earnhardt Sr. told me one time. I won’t name the driver that drove for me, but he said, ‘You know, he’s got all the talent. He just doesn’t know how to race.’ Meaning he just knows when to race, when to push it. He’s got a lot of talent, but he’s making a lot of enemies out here.”
“I mean Kyle now, this is, this one and Dover, Talladega. It’s really getting old with these guys,” he concluded.
When Hendrick was questioned about Chastain racing a Chevrolet, he responded, “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. And if you don’t do it they’ll run all over you.”
“So I’m loyal to Chevrolet, but when somebody runs over us, I expect my guys to hold their ground and I’m not going to ask them to yield just because of the Chevrolet,” he declared.
When asked how Kyle Larson might handle Chastain’s driving moving forward, Hendrick replied, “Well, I would think Justin would have a conversation and say, ‘We’re gonna. It’s gonna 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’s got talent enough to do that.”
“But we don’t want to get knocked out — if you look at the points that Larson’s lost because of that and the race here today — I think somewhere in the stages he was all over Larson. The drivers have to settle that. Whatever I say to the owners or NASCAR or NASCAR wants to get in it they did with Geoff Bodine and Dale Earnhardt when I was going through all that, and they put a stop to it. And this is just not between two guys,” he finished.
Hendrick’s comments come after both Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain got into it with each other in the final laps of the race.
With 13 laps to go, Larson started underneath Chastain and drove him up the track and fenced him into the wall as Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano wrecked behind them.
In the ensuing restart, Chastain had taken the lead and opted to restart on the bottom. He performed a similar move to Larson and drove him up into the wall.
However, instead of both drivers being able to continue, Chastain turned into the wall and collected Larson ending both drivers’ chances of winning.
Following the race, Chastain explained his decision, “Full commit into one. I got really tight, and drove up, and turned myself. I wanted to squeeze hi. I wanted to push him up. We’d been trading back and forth all day and I wanted to push him up for sure, but I didn’t want to turn myself into the well.”
When asked what he thought about how frustrated Larson would be, Chastain replied, “I’m the one standing here talking to you.” He then went on to thank his sponsors.
He would reiterate his comments while speaking to other members of the press, “Definitely wanted to squeeze him up, but didn’t want to turn myself. And ultimately took ourselves out of the race.”
When confronted on comments made by Larson and his crew chief Cliff Daniels on the radio claiming this is the third time Chastain’s took them out, and asked whether he would have words with Larson, the Trackhouse driver responded, “I’m not sure, Kim. But everybody at Trackhouse it was a banner day for us to go to battle again with these guys, these fellow powerhouse teams.”
“We weren’t quite the same after the 19 got us there in three coming to the end of stage 2, and playing with one hand behind our back after that,” he concluded.
Chastain would also respond to a question on whether he would need to do anything moving forward with Larson and his team moving forward after the race at Darlington.
He said, “I’m not sure, Dustin. We all go race and I fully committed into one and wanted to squeeze him up, didn’t want to turn myself across his nose, for sure. So not how I wanted to be standing here talking to y’all here.”
What do you make of Hendrick’s words directed at Chastain? What do you make of Chastain’s comments post-race about the incident?