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Has Ross Chastain Changed His Driving Style?

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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Ross Chastain has been the subject of many controversies throughout his entire NASCAR career, even at every level. His most notable incidents involve Denny Hamlin and, more recently, Kyle Larson. He even got into an altercation with his own teammate in Daniel Suarez at COTA this year. But he has been quiet as of late.

The last handful of weeks, he’s steered clear of controversy and his finishes have been…modest, to put it lightly and lackluster to be more truthful. His last top-5 was at Kansas where he finished 5th. At Darlington, Charlotte, and Gateway, he finished outside the top-20, the most controversial of those races being the Darlington run-in with Kyle Larson where he finished 29th.

Since that incident, his team has not shown the same speed as Chastain largely kept a low profile, his best finish coming a Sonoma where he finished 10th. This sparked many drivers and fans to wonder if it was a conscious shift in his driving style which caused him to simmer down in the media.

During an interview this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90), Ross Chastain was asked the question: Has he changed his driving style within the past few weeks? Ross gave his answer in the clip below. Let’s break it down:

First, we ought to note that Trackhouse team owner, Justin Marks, sat Chastain down after the whole ordeal with Larson at Darlington. This came after a history of doubling and tripling down on his driver’s style in Ross Chastain. So, what really triggered this to happen? Well, Mr. Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, was very upset with Ross basically taking out the No. 5 of Kyle Larson.

Now, one of Mr. H’s cars still went on to win but it didn’t matter. Mr. H and Jeff Gordon didn’t like seeing their cars raced against that way. So, as was hinted by the men themselves over the radio, it is assumed that Hendrick Motorsports had a conversation with Chevrolet, who then had a conversation with Team Trackhouse, in order for Marks to sit down with the driver of the No. 1 car and tell him to cool it.

In the interview above, Chastain responds to the question with first an explanation, which I think is telling. To me, the explanation seems almost…rehearsed. So, this could be some bleed over from the sit-down his Justin Marks. In the explanation, he states that he’s evolving and learning.

I had to unlearn a lot of habits I learned fundamentally at twelve years old in the Fast Kid class of the Pro Trucks division in south Florida, through late models, and then back-of-the-pack Truck, Xfinity, Cup, up through middle-of-the-pack and now the front, there’s a lot of habits I learned that don’t exactly work all the time when you’re in the spotlight.

Chastain, in similar ways as Alex Bowman, is a sort of modern-day journeyman driver in the NASCAR Cup Series. They’ve been with every kind of team in the three largest divisions of NASCAR from back-markers to mid-packers all the way to the top-marker teams. If Chastain is believed to be genuine here, that means that you race differently, depending on where you are in the pack. Maybe back of the pack racers view it to be a free-for-all, especially in the rare instance that one of them can sniff the front. That’s a fair claim and I think it’s a fair point for Chastain to point out, even if it does sound like sort of an excuse as he tends to dish out.

When it comes to the answer of the question, Chastain says bluntly that no, he hasn’t changed his driving style. Well, in very least, it was not a conscious effort. He says that he’s a driver and he was hired to do a job and he will continue to do that job the only way he knows how. He also said that he had the opportunity to listen to various “very powerful people” and has taken their considerations into account.

Okay, so, has Chastain changed his driving style? I don’t think he has changed his approach, at least that’s what I’m gathering from the interview. He’s still the same old Ross Chastain everyone knows and either loves or loathes. But has his talks with Justin Marks and, potentially, Chevrolet executives shaped his driving style in any way? Well, I don’t think he makes the same sorts of Hail Melon moves he has become known for in recent weeks. I think he races a tad bit more passively than before and that has scrubbed some speed off. They’ll find it, though. The best of teams always do.

Also Read:

In The Stands

Charles predicts for Chastain to make another catastrophic mistake and soon…

Nicholas Bianco notes that he’s just listening to the sacred teachings of Yoda.

Michael of I like racing was hoping that the “adjustment” he would make would be to quit and disappear off into the sunset.

What do you think, NASCAR fans? Have you seen a shift in Ross Chastain as of late? Let us know your thoughts and opinions on all of our social media platforms!

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Picture of Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
All Posts