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April 20, 2024

Ross Chastain moving on from Texas contact with William Byron: ‘I don’t think twice about last week’

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Ross Chastain opened Saturday’s media scrum at Talladega Superspeedway with praise for one former driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and spent the rest of the availability discussing its present occupant.

Chastain spoke of his days idolizing Jeff Gordon, the Hall-of-Fame four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, when asked who his racing idol was growing up. But he had to follow that by noting he has moved forward after last weekend’s race-ending crash with the modern-day No. 24 driven by William Byron at Texas Motor Speedway. The Trackhouse Racing pilot was setting sail for a podium finish in double-overtime before contact from Byron exiting Turn 2 sent Chastain’s No. 1 Chevrolet into the outside wall, spinning across the track and ultimately into a 32nd-place finish.

MORE: Photos from Talladega

A former winner at Talladega, Chastain said Saturday that he and Byron are “buddies” and that the two are putting the incident behind them.

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“I don’t have any opinion of how it all happened,” Chastain said. “Nothing I want to talk about.”

Byron said in a Tuesday roundtable he extended a phone call to Chastain, which Chastain has since returned, resulting in a two-minute conversation.

Chastain is no stranger to on-track contact, the glowing example being a yearlong rivalry with Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin that eventually resulted in a Hamlin penalty for intentional contact in 2023. This latest conflict puts the evolution of driver interactions back at the forefront of the conversation, even if Chastain remains unbothered by Byron personally.

“They definitely evolve,” Chastain said of those relationships. “We all are learning each other and remembering things. We’re people. We’re humans. We make mistakes and we make really good calls or really bad calls, and really good decisions or bad decisions. So I don’t think twice about last week or anything.”

Ross Chastain drives during a NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas.
Jonathan Bachman | Getty Images

Of course, just because he’s putting the incident in his rearview mirror doesn’t mean he didn’t have any immediate reactions post-race, where he declined to comment after his evaluation and release from the infield care center.

“Of course in the moment, I was super mad and still am that we got wrecked,” Chastain said. “That’s not how anybody wants it, but as far as moving forward, I don’t lose any sleep over it. I’m in a spot now where I know I’ve got a job and I know I’ve got a lot of races ahead of me, and it’s not going to do me any good to dwell on that.

“So I’ve had a great week and a good week of just getting ready to come to Talladega. I promise you William Byron has not been — this is the most I’ve talked about or thought about him.”

Chastain will start Sunday’s GEICO 500 (3 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) from 32nd position, exactly where he left off a week ago at Texas. Byron will start 13th.