By Cole Cusumano
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Chances are if you were watching the Federated Auto Parts 400 from Richmond Raceway last weekend, your eyes got wide as Ross Chastain collected another victim, but one that nobody should mess with: Kyle Busch.
Two of the most polarizing figures in the NASCAR Cup Series tangled on Lap 240 following the restart of the final stage. Entering Turn 3, Chastain was caught in the middle of a three-wide battle with Martin Truex Jr. and Ty Dillon holding steady near the rear of his No. 1, while Busch was to his outside running 10th.
For once, Busch was on the receiving end of what appeared to be a dump-and-run, or as he called it, getting “Chastain’d.”
As the racing world vividly remembers, this wasn’t the first time Busch made headlines after a spin at Richmond. For a driver who has a similar hard-nosed style of driving like Chastain – albeit more aggressively earlier in his career – one wonders how the Candyman perceived the incident with an akin competitor.
“Chastain’s just been doing it a lot lately – unfortunately for him – and getting himself in a bad spot, and it hasn’t even been for wins,” Busch told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “He did do it for the win at COTA, but then some other races he was battling for other positions within the top-10 and ran over guys.
“I thought I was a victim of that as well this past weekend. Upon further review, looking back at the film, I either didn’t hear [my spotter] or didn’t recall being three-wide, so I may have crowded him a little bit. It wasn’t 100% his fault. He just has had that reputation for this year, so I figured he was guilty, but he gets off a little bit this week.”
In the end, Busch was able to rally for a ninth-place finish, while Chastain settled for 18th after leading 80 laps and winning a stage.
Call it a racing deal or a decision of empathy as someone who’s been in Chastain’s position many times throughout his career – either way, Busch is letting the driver of the No. 1 off easy. However, with the playoffs just two weeks away, don’t expect the Candyman to cut breaks on a weekly basis, given how his 2022 campaign has gone.
“I can’t tell you how many times this year I’ve been backwards and it’s just due to being in the pack and the amount of respect that guys have to race around one another is nonexistent,” Busch concluded. “That’s just kind of been taking us by the waist side of not getting the finishes that we deserve.”