DARLINGTON, South Carolina – Car owner Rick Hendrick issued a warning to Ross Chastain after Kyle Larson crashed for the third time in the last four races due to Chastain’s actions.
“I don’t care if he’s driving a Chevrolet if he destroys our cars,”Hendrick said of Chastain, who drives a Chevy for Trackhouse Racing. “I don’t care. I told Chevrolet that. If you break us, you’ll get it back. If you don’t, they’ll be running all over the place.”
“I am loyal to Chevrolet, but when someone runs us over, I expect my comrades to stand their ground. I won’t ask them to give up just because of Chevrolet.”
Hendrik is not finished.
“He doesn’t have to be that aggressive,” Hendrik said of Chastain. “I think at this point in the race you’re probably very aggressive, but you don’t hit people into the fence. It’s going to make a lot of enemies. It’s hard to win a championship when you have a lot of winnings there.”
When asked if he needed to be involved, Hendrick mentioned Team Chastain’s owner, Justin Marks.
“I think Justin will have a conversation” with Chastain.
As for the message the tags have to get across?
“If you have a lot of people who want to pay you back, it’s hard to win a championship like that,” Hendrick said.
Of all the incidents with Chastain, Hendrick said: “It really gets old with those guys.”
Hendrik’s words filled the void left by Larson, who left the track without speaking to reporters.
Hendrick’s comments came after one of his drivers – William Byron – claimed his third Cup Series victory on Sunday at Darlington Raceway.
But it would have been Larson Larson had it not been for Chastain.
Chastain and Larson were battling for the lead on the restart with six laps to go when a problem occurred.
Chastain called Larson and they beat him up again. Chastain’s right back hit Larson’s left front. Contact spun Chastain’s car sideways and damaged the left wing of Larson’s car, ending his chances of victory. Larson finished 20th.
“I totally committed to (Turn) 1 and wanted to press (Larson) up,” Chastain said after getting out of inpatient care. “I didn’t want to turn myself across his nose for sure. Not how I wanted to stand here talking to all of you here.”
In the previous reboot, the roles were reversed. Larson was in the bottom lane and Chastain was in the top lane. Chastain hit the wall.
When his team asked him if he got into the wall, Chastain responded over the radio: “Oh yeah. He drove us on that.”
When Chastain decided on which path to choose for the next restart, he asked his team if they thought Larson was finished or if Larson would do the same.
The team responded by telling Chastain to choose the path he felt was stronger. It was Bottom, who made his fateful connection with Larson.
The issues between Chastain and Larson began in Talladega. Chastain’s connection with Noah Gragson at the front of the field created an accordion effect that collected Larson and ended his race. Larson finished 33rd.
At Dover the following week, Chastain climbed into the back of Brennan Paul, and sent Paul’s car down the track to Larson, ending his chances of victory. Larson finished 32nd.
After Sunday’s incident, the crew chief, Cliff Daniels, told Larson over the radio: “Why did he run into the fence? How could you make any sense? … Make those three races now that we’re out, Chevrolet. Well done. Well done. That’s three races.” We (number) one car pulled us out of it.
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