The tides of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway turned at the end of Stage 2 as front-runners Ross Chastain and Martin Truex Jr. made contact in Turn 3 and 4 heading toward the second green-checkered flag of the day.
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With Trackhouse Racing teammate Daniel Suárez fighting to stay on the lead lap, Chastain entered Turn 3 conservatively while Truex entered on the inside of the No. 1 Chevrolet. Suárez’s pace and Chastain’s line entering the corner forced the No. 1 to check up, resulting in slight contact between Truex and Chastain.
Chastain slid up into the wall and Truex Jr. was sent spinning down onto the apron with slight damage. The incident brought out the yellow flag to end the stage, giving Chastain his fifth stage win of 2023. Both cars made it back to pit road.
After gaining the lead on Lap 2, Truex led the next 145 laps before Chastain overtook him on a long, green-flag run.
Chastain and Truex’s days of on-track skirmishes didn’t end as the No. 1 wrecked after getting together with Kyle Larson on a restart with six laps to go. Chastain wound up in the garage with a 29th-place finish. Truex was involved in a wreck with Joey Logano on the previous restart that also ended the day of the No. 19, catapulting the dominant car early on to a 31st-place finish.
“When we got into Chastain there at the end of the second stage going for the win in that, it knocked the tow out so we were tight from there on out,” Truex said after a brief check at the infield care center. “Just an unfortunate deal. There was plenty of room there, but he just came off the wall and hit me. Like I said, knocked the tow out in the right front. Pretty crappy from there and then on that restart I guess I just got real tight and I don’t even know who I squeezed into the wall, but I apologize to them. Probably my fault, just got real tight and couldn’t stay down the track.”