Sunday, May 28

Watermelon man smashes the competition in Texas, but not without controversy Featured

Chastain in the No.1 car being chased by Allmendinger in the No. 16 at Circuit of the Americas this past Sunday. Chastain in the No.1 car being chased by Allmendinger in the No. 16 at Circuit of the Americas this past Sunday. Getty Images

Ross Chastain is Keeping It Weird in Austin, Texas, as he is now the third first time winner in just six races in the NASCAR Cup Series after this past Sunday's trip to the Circuit of the Americas. Chastain is known as the “Watermelon Man”, as he grew up in Florida on a watermelon farm with his parents, and dreamed one day to be a winner in NASCAR. 

From driving to lower teams in the NASCAR Truck and Xfinity Series just a few years ago, Chastain told the NASCAR media just how much his first career win meant to him. “I’m a good couch racer,” said Chastain. “I believed for a long time, but Justin (Trackhouse Racing team owner) asked me on the front stretch ‘Do you believe yet?’ I would say that I still struggle with that. I don’t view myself as a Cup Series winning race car driver. I just feel like I have to work to get there, and I’m not there yet. There’s so many mistakes I make.It's mental, but physical. There’s the shifting, the braking, just the feedback in practice. There’s so many ways to mess this stuff up, and I haven’t done it perfectly yet. I’ve learned to think neutral and just, okay, don’t get too worked up if I do something wrong. Just right back to it. It hasn’t happened yet.” 

Car owner Justin Marks also talks about how he believed Chastain could turn Trackhouse Racing into a winning and competitive organization. “This was an ambitious thing to sort of dream up,” quoted Marks. “I asked a lot of people that had a lot of experience in this sport and saw a lot of teams come and go to trust me and to commit to Trackhouse. So to be here not even a year and a half really into our existence, I’m just proud of everybody that committed. Every single one of these people, they own a piece of this victory. So it was always Ross. That’s what I told him when he got out of the car: It was always you. When the Ganassi buy-out happened, he texted me as I got off of the press conference stage of the Hall of Fame, and he just wrote, ‘I want this.’ He had to be patient with me while I let the dust settle, but we all were huge, huge believers in Ross’ talent. We knew what he was capable of doing, and he proved it last month at Trackhouse. And I think we’ve really just opened a door for him and Phil and the 1 team moving forward. I’m proud of everybody. Chevrolet, Onyx Homes and Moose and AdventHealth. It’s a really, really great day for us.” 

The win didn’t come easy for Chastain, as he was bumped and passed on the final lap by AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman just a few turns before the start finish line. Then Chastain gave back the favor to Allmendinger and ended up collecting Bowman in the carnegie as well. Allmendinger told Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports about the incident saying, “At the end of the day, we all have to look ourselves in the mirror. If you are okay with it, you’re okay with it. Each person is different.”

Top five of the 2022 EchoPark Texas Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas were Ross Chastain in first, Alex Bowman in second, Christopher Bell in third, Chase Elliott in fourth, and Tyler Reddick in fifth. Next week the NASCAR Cup Series takes on the 0.75 mile Richmond Raceway for 400 laps next Sunday afternoon. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on FOX and on MRN Radio. 



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