Ross Chastain continued an incredible 2022 as the third driver to become a first time winner this season. In a race that saw plenty of drama, Chastain steadily climbed through the field and wound up in an epic battle for the lead between himself and three other drivers during the final laps; Allmendinger, Bowman, and Reddick.
Chastain had a rear mirror full of AJ Allmendinger most of the final laps as the road course ace waited for Chastain to make a mistake. But the young driver kept his focus and held off the veteran driver lap after lap.
A series of late restarts allowed Allmendinger, Alex Bowman and Tyler Reddick to keep pressure on into the final laps. Bowman was getting faster and the quartet of were trading paint left and right. The final deciding turn saw Almendinger, Bowman and Chastain battling with Chastain coming out with the lead past Reddick as Allmendinger spun into the rocks.
The fight into the corner allowed Christopher Bell and Chase Elliott to pass Reddick as he came back into the racing groove.
If that finish didn’t have you on the edge of your seat then I am not sure what will. It had me yelling at the TV for the entire last lap.
A very disappointed Alex Bowman thought that he had enough to win but Chastain made very few errors on his way to victory. Allmendinger was gracious at the end but going from victory, or at worst a Top 5, to finishing 33rd was a bitter pill to swallow.
The Next Gen car held up well even though there was another issue with a tire coming off. And NASCAR has to feel much better about this race at COTA after last year’s rain disaster.
Good on ya, mate
Ross Chastain (P1) for his first win and what a win it was.
Alex Bowman (P2) had a fast car at the end, just not fast enough.
Christopher Bell (P3) was in and out of the Top 10 all day but was there when it mattered.
Chase Elliott (P4) also needed another lap to perhaps get past Chastain.
Tyler Reddick (P5) dang near stole the race from Chastain and Allmendinger.
Ryan Blaney (P6) started from the pole and fought his way back through traffic at the end for a decent finish.
Martin Truex, Jr. (P7) managed track position for a Top 10.
Austin Cindric (P8) got spun around but still managed to find a good finish.
So you had a bad day
Daniel Suarez (P24) won Stage 1 and looked to have a car to run with the best but got spun around on a restart and never fully recovered.
AJ Allmendinger (P33) went from near victory to near the end.
Bubba Wallace (P38) lost a wheel and that ended his day.
Kurt Busch (P32) had a run in with Joey Logano (P31) and Kyle Larson (P29) in the rocks.
Chase Briscoe (P30) had a decent day going until he didn’t.
Denny Hamlin (P18) won Stage 2 but that was purely a strategy win.
Next up: Richmond
This race should bode better for Joe Gibbs racing with MTJ having won 3 of the last 5 and Kyle Busch last won here in 2018. Joe Gibbs teammates went 1-2-3 here with MTJ, Hamlin and Christopher Bell.
Alex Bowman won this race in 2021.
Brad Keselowski won here in 2020 and he could use some redemption after last week’s killer penalties levied by NASCAR.
And speaking of redemption, Kevin Harvick has had four Top 10 finishes in his last five races here. He’ll need to pedal hard to get around Team Gibbs and Team Hendrick. On the other hand, we could see a driver like Tyler Reddick break through.
Drive fast, take chances and keep the shiny side up!
(Photo by Tim Parks/HHP for Chevy Racing)