The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway was full of excitement for fans on Thursday night.
Fans of Ross Chastain and the CarShield #45 truck had perhaps the most exciting race of all. Chastain started the race in the second position, but due to a safety violation during a pit stop – too many men on the track – he was sent to the back of the field.
Not one to be deterred, the Melon Man was determined to battle back, and battle he did.
Ross made contact with Ben Rhodes and his #99 Ford in a way that opened him up to take position. The move was successful, but risky, and the other drivers and crew chiefs noticed and voiced their displeasure after the race, calling Chastain’s style “aggressive”.
Fans on social media had a different reaction. Some even began to draw comparisons to the racing style of Dale Earnhardt, who has been immortalized in fans minds as The Intimidator for his tendency to make contact with other drivers while on the track.
Chastain defended his driving, but did not shy away from the accusations of being aggressive.
“The CarShield Silverado is going to be the one adding the excitement,” Ross promised in a post-race interview.
He referenced the history of the sport at Bristol and the changes on the track itself – that have made the actual racing space smaller – as other reasons why the race was more exciting.
With the third-place finish at Bristol, Chastain moved into second place overall in the truck series playoff standings.
Chastain and his team look to continue the momentum on the first road course of the playoffs at this week’s Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
The course is no stranger to exciting driver interactions. In 2016 John Hunter Nemechek and Cole Custer made contact, both on the track and off, as Nemechek bumped Custer while they battled it out for first place. The contact led to both drivers going off course and pinning Custer’s truck to the wall. This led to Custer tackling Nemechek, before the later was ultimately deemed the race winner.
The race begins Sunday, August 25th at 2:30 p.m. ET and can be watched on FS1.