Ross Chastain May 14, 2023; Darlington, South Carolina, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Ross Chastain (1) leads NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson (5) on the restart at Darlington Raceway. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone has seemingly weighed in on Ross Chastain’s aggressive driving style, but not from anyone on Trackhouse Racing.

Until now.

Trackhouse co-owner Justin Marks went on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio to talk about last Sunday’s Darlington race, which consisted of Chastain and Kyle Larson wrecking out of the lead in the race’s final laps. Marks was sure to praise Chastain and to give him his full support, but that “stuff needs to be cleaned up.”

“Ross drove a great race, Marks said. “I mean, he made good decisions in the first and second stages and not racing guys super hard. Letting a couple people go, kind of like, just sort of managing that give and take and everything. And then it all just kind of fell apart at the end, Dave.

“But he’s got the skill to [win], he’s got the ability to [win]. The result was just bad. It just was bad for everybody. It was bad for Hendrick, it was bad for Chevrolet, and it was bad for Trackhouse and Ross, as the points leader. And so, this has been my life today. I mean, we have addressed it. We’ve had many conversations with different people today. Some difficult conversations.

“And I think the important message here is that we are a believer in Ross’ talent, that’s obvious. He’s very fast, but he’s got some things he’s got to clean up. I mean I’ll just be totally honest with you, and we today started the process of more aggressively handling that. With our partners, with Ross, and with our team. Because, not because necessarily that we’re mad at him, but because there’s so much opportunity here. And we are, we’re addressing it. I’m going to take a more active role in it and, I love the kid and I love the opportunity that he’s giving every single person that works at Trackhouse. To be able to put a championship run together. But there’s just stuff that needs to be cleaned up, and it’s a process he’s going to have to start going through sooner rather than later. We are very supportive of him, we’re very supportive of this team and we are addressing it.”

You don’t want to neuter Chastain’s driving style completely. Aggressiveness is needed if you want to win. The problem with Chastain is it’s almost like he always wants to be aggressive, which might make his job more difficult.

Denny Hamlin pointed out on his podcast this week that Chastain should have more than two career wins at this point. Hamlin felt that because Chastain doesn’t give an inch, he won’t get that in return from his competitors. That makes his job harder at the end of a race. Chastain could stand to be a bit more generous in the early parts of the race when track position isn’t as important and save the aggressiveness for the end of the race.

The thing was, the Chastain/Larson crash happened toward the end of the race when Chastain was fighting for the win. The problem was that aggressiveness not only wrecked himself but a fellow Chevy competitor.

While this may be a difficult task for Marks, it’s a great situation to be in. I imagine he would rather reign in a driver’s aggressiveness instead of pushing them to be more aggressive. If Marks can do that, Chastain may be in Victory Lane a lot more.


About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @phillipbupp