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March 6, 2022

Ross Chastain savors third-place run after flirting with Vegas victory

Meg Oliphant | Getty Images
Meg Oliphant
Getty Images

The optimism around Trackhouse Racing’s rise into a contender for NASCAR Cup Series wins is spreading. Last weekend, it was Daniel Suarez who was bullish on the second-year team’s performance. Sunday, Ross Chastain carried the banner on a career day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Chastain led 83 of the 274 laps in the Pennzoil 400, more than doubling the amount he’d led in his previous 117 Cup starts. He ended with a third-place result in just his third start in Trackhouse’s No. 1 Chevrolet.

“It’s a dream come true,” Chastain told FOX Sports after the race. “This is what all the work is for. This is why we train and try to build our whole lives and careers, to have race cars like that. … I couldn’t be more proud of Trackhouse.”

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Suarez matched Trackhouse’s best-ever finish with a fourth-place run at Auto Club Speedway a week ago. Sunday, a crash knocked his No. 99 Chevy out early, leaving Chastain to take the baton.

Chastain has a history with the 1.5-mile Las Vegas track – the first of his two Xfinity Series victories came there with then-team owner Chip Ganassi in 2018. Sunday’s strides put Chastain in a similar spot, but at the Cup Series level.

The Florida native first took the lead on Lap 113, later scoring Trackhouse’s first stage win by being out front heading into the Stage 2 break. Chastain continued to set the pace in the final stage before Kyle Busch gained the upper hand in the segment’s second half.

A late-race caution period forced overtime, and a divide in strategies on the final pit stop shuffled Chastain from third to fifth for the last restart. He lined up on the inside of Row 3, and though he wasn’t able to catch race winner Alex Bowman, Chastain did edge out Busch for third place by just 0.007 seconds.

“Good job, guys. That’s so cool,” Chastain said on the No. 1 radio after the checkered flag. “Thank you.”