Back to News

February 19, 2024

Ross Chastain ‘content’ after Daytona 500 bid ends with big move, last-lap crash

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Ross Chastain was almost loaded in for the start of Monday’s Daytona 500 when he heard some last-minute words of encouragement over the pre-race ruckus. Chastain had wriggled most of the way into the cockpit of the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet when Trackhouse Racing founder Justin Marks got his attention.

“What am I going to be drinking in about three hours?” Marks yelled over the hood.

“You know,” Chastain said with a grin and a nod to his new Busch Light sponsorship.

Nearly three hours and 199 of 200 laps later in Monday’s rain-delayed crown jewel, that same hood was pointed into the infield grass at Daytona International Speedway after Chastain’s bold move for a potential race-winning pass. Any celebratory cans of his sponsor’s sudsy product stayed on ice. Chastain was credited with a midpack 21st-place finish — where he started — but his challenge to eventual Daytona 500 champ William Byron was among the strongest on a topsy-turvy day.

RELATED: Daytona 500 results | At-track photos

“I took the gap, and I don’t apologize for that,” Chastain said. “I can go to sleep tonight knowing that I took the white flag, making the move to win the Daytona 500. Four years ago, it was with eight laps to go or something. I’ve got it down to one lap to go. Yeah, too aggressive, though, when you don’t finish.”

Chastain stayed clean and clear of the race’s twists and turns, and he was out front when a massive crash erupted close behind him with 10 laps to go. He was still atop the scoring pylon when the field lined up for the final restart with four laps remaining.

Chastain’s No. 1 stayed door-to-door with the No. 24 Chevy of Byron for the first two laps of the final green-flag stretch, until Byron inched ahead with a massive push from Austin Cindric and others in the low groove. Chastain’s lane regrouped as it barreled to the white flag, and that’s when he saw an opening.

Chastain dipped low on Byron, who held his ground. As he did, he made contact with Cindric’s No. 2 Ford, sending both cars sliding.

Chastain initially took his share of the blame, saying he made too hard a left turn, collecting Cindric. But as the two drivers chatted outside the infield care center to discuss their collision, Cindric seemed to absolve Chastain, pointing the finger at Corey LaJoie’s pressure and push just before the start-finish line. “Corey finished fourth, so congrats,” Cindric said. “I mean, he tried to fit a car where there wasn’t a car, and just continued to push through my left-rear until I wrecked.”

Coming that close to winning the Daytona 500 had the potential to carry a certain sting for Chastain, but the 31-year-old Florida native was mostly encouraged just to have a shot at victory in the “Great American Race.” For himself and Marks, there was instead peace about the outcome.

SHOP: Daytona 500 winner gear

“I mean, I love Ross Chastain and he’s got a lot of fight,” Marks told “We had a really fast race car here, and the Busch Light people are super-excited to watch their car lead the race. We have a big history in front of us in this sport, a lot to accomplish. I’m not getting too low right now, I’m just really proud of the effort that he put in, the effort that the team put in. You know, 10 times out of 10, I want a guy that goes for it.”

Said Chastain: “We still had a shot, though, so yeah, I really do feel content. It’s weird to say it, but we did everything right.”

For Chastain and Marks, the post-race toast in Daytona’s Victory Lane will have to wait. Chastain entered his sixth Daytona 500 appearance with a “why not us?” mentality, and the team nearly cashed in on that approach.

“I just gave him a hug and told him I’m proud of him and said that you know, we’re gonna be doing a lot of these Daytona 500s together,” Marks said after the two met in the No. 1 team’s hauler. “We’re going to have a lot of opportunities to win this race. I think everybody at Trackhouse, we do a pretty good job of managing our expectations and knowing that these races always come down to a game of millimeters at the end, and you have to shoot your shot. You have to go for it. I’m glad that he did. He’s in really good spirits. Probably already thinking about Atlanta.”