Chastain, Truex spark multi-car crash in Stage 2 at Atlanta

A multi-car crash during Stage 2 thinned the field of contenders in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Contact between Martin Truex Jr. and Ross Chastain — both running among the top five — blocked a portion of the 1.54-mile track through Turn 2, collecting several other cars in their wake. Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell, Noah Gragson and Michael McDowell were also snagged behind Truex’s spin.

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The crash forced the fourth caution period in the Quaker State 400. Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet was the most severely damaged, making hard contact with the outside retaining wall. He was evaluated and released from the infield care center, credited with a 35th-place finish in the 36-car field.

“The hit looked bad, but the impact wasn’t as bad as it looked,” Dillon said, who issued some share of the blame to Chastain in televised interviews after the crash. “I told myself that we were going to race hard all day rather than riding in the back, but when you got guys out there wrecking half the field, you might as well pick a different strategy. These Next Gen cars are hard to drive, and you’ve got to make them drive better when it’s hot outside. I thought we did a good job making my car get to the bottom. We were making a lot of headway in the race before we got caught up in someone else’s mess. We’re going to keep on keeping on, and work each week to get to Victory Lane.”

For their prominent roles in the wreck, Chastain and Truex rallied to lead laps afterward and post respectable finishes. Chastain led three times for 32 total laps, and drove away from a later scrape with rival Denny Hamlin to score a runner-up result. Truex led twice for 27 laps and salvaged 11th place.

“I hate that I took the best car here and I tore it up a couple of times,” Chastain said. “Hats off to Chevrolet and Trackhouse Racing for bringing this fast of a Jockey Chevrolet. Our road crew and our pit crew did an awesome job to rebound through all of the damage repair.”