Ross Chastain and William Byron never had a chance at Dover, did they?
Not if you’ve paid any attention to Dover’s history. NASCAR’s first 12 races at Dover, beginning in 1969, were won by a Murders Row of racing royalty: Richard Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison.
Of the most recent 26 Dover races before Monday, 25 were won by men with Cup championships. So it was only natural that Martin Truex Jr., the 2017 Cup champ, was going to survive that final restart.
But it was going to be interesting if Ross Chastain had enough speed to get on Truex’s rear quarter-panel in the closing laps.
Maybe it’s my imagination, but it looked like Ross The Boss got a great jump after the final green flag but might’ve been a little gun-shy. And maybe he was right to be hesitant.
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Is Ross Chastain the new Ernie Irvan?
He needs to win some more races to reach that level, but he’s got a good start: He’s running with the leaders, and he tends to find himself in the middle of a lot of mayhem.
Ernie Irvan’s 1990s run came after a lot of late-’80s hurt feelings and outright anger. His reputation improved after he started winning races. Jimmy Spencer didn’t win nearly as much as Ernie, so his reputation remained stubborn. Buckshot Jones never won at the Cup level and therefore never had a chance to shake his rep.
Remember, both Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip angered a lot of fellow racers at times, especially earlier in their careers, and that turned out OK. Chastain’s dumping of Brennan Poole, which also took out Kyle Larson, was his latest offense.
Last year, Ross went into a slump after two or three episodes of reckless driving. It’ll be interesting to watch how he races in the coming weeks.
Who even knew Ryan Truex was still racing?
Well, not to pick on Martin’s little brother, but it would be easy to assume he’d just faded into the background before winning Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Dover.
If you thought Martin’s long-awaited win was a big relief, Ryan’s win might’ve helped buy him a steadier future in the entire sport. He’s been scrambling for seat time for much of the past five years, with one full-time season in both the Trucks and Xfinity Series since 2018.
He was winless in nearly 200 career starts across all three national NASCAR circuits, but in 10 Xfinity starts over past two seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing, he has six finishes of seventh or better, including that breakthrough win this past weekend.
He’s only scheduled to run one more 2023 race for Gibbs, but maybe this will get his phone ringing … or jingling, or just vibrating, whatever he chooses.