Ross Chastain is the points leader heading into this weekend's Cup Series race in Kansas. (HHP/Chris Owens photo)

Will Controversial Chastain Strike Again In Kansas?

Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain found himself in the hot seat once again following Monday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway.

On lap 81 of the Wurth 400, Chastain made contact with the rear bumper of Brennan Poole’s No. 15 Ford, turning Poole and sending the Rick Ware Racing entry into the wall. The resultant accident collected Kyle Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet, as the No. 15 slid directly in front of Larson.

Unable to avoid a collision, the Hendrick Motorsports entry took on major right-front damage upon impact.

The domino effect from Chastain’s original move involved ending Poole’s day at Dover, essentially taking Larson out of contention (he finished 32nd) and adding another line to Chastain’s growing record of on-track incidents.

Poole had a few choice words to share about his incident with the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing driver during his post-race interview with FOX Sports.

“I felt like I just got ran over for no reason, 80 laps into the race,” Poole said. “But he’s (Chastain) been known to do it recently, probably needs to get his butt whooped.”

The Florida native also addressed the incident with Poole following the race.

“I first have to say I’m sorry to Brennan at everybody at Rick Ware’s team. I owe a big apology and a bit more. When I get home from Skip Barber tomorrow, I’ll head over there and talk to those guys and make some of that right,” Chastain said. 

As mentioned by Poole, this isn’t the first controversy Chastain has been involved in during the past two-plus seasons.

On April 23, Chastain attempted to shoot his No. 1 Chevrolet between Legacy Motor Club’s Noah Gragson and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney as the field was getting up to speed during an overtime restart at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The chain-reaction response triggered a crash that involved Gragson, Larson and Ryan Preece among others.

The incident was largely attributed to “superspeedway racing” and what comes with it, but nonetheless, the name “Chastain” has been part of a reoccurring theme that dates back farther than this season.

Let’s revisit a few moments in the watermelon farmer’s history of run-ins in the Cup Series.

The Feud — Hamlin Vs. Chastain   

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin has been on both sides of the turret with Chastain.

Last June at Illinois’ World Wide Technology Raceway, Chastain quickly became a target of retaliation after he sent Hamlin into the wall while racing for sixth, ruining the No. 11’s chances at a top-10 finish. As Chastain continued to charge forward in the race, he also made contact with Chase Elliott’s left rear, which spun Elliott and brought out the caution.

A month later, two of the three drivers were back in the limelight.

As Hamlin attempted to pass the No. 1 Chevrolet at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Chastain hit Hamlin’s left rear and sent the No. 11 sliding toward the infield. Chastain attributed the incident to car damage he sustained earlier in the race, explaining that the car wasn’t handling as it should’ve.

Denny Hamlin (11) goes around after contact with Ross Chastain (1).

In late July, a frustrated Hamlin instigated contact with Chastain at Michigan’s Pocono Raceway, pushing the No. 1 out of the groove and into the wall. Chastain was unable to finish the race, as he collided with Kevin Harvick and sustained major damage following Hamlin’s nudge.

The final moment of insanity involving Chastain and Hamlin last season occurred at Martinsville (Va.) Raceway on Oct. 30. In a video game-like move that quickly went viral, Chastain floored the gas pedal and rode the wall from turn three to the finish line, stealing a spot in the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway from Hamlin.

The astonishing finish still landed Chastain a permanent spot in the industry headlines and earned the maneuver, which has since been outlawed from NASCAR racing, the moniker “Hail Melon.”

After that, the two rivals appeared to take a breather and let the dust settle.

That is, until March 12 at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway.

In their first notable run-in this season, Hamlin shoved the Trackhouse Racing entry into the wall as the field approached the checkered flag, costing both he and Chastain multiple positions.

Following the race, Hamlin infamously mentioned the incident on his “Actions Detrimental” podcast.

“It wasn’t a mistake. I unleashed, I let the wheel go and I said he’s coming with me,” Hamlin said. As for his rivalry with Chastain, the JGR driver added, “I think we’re willing to put the past behind us … I think that’s the fairest way to do it.”

Hamlin’s admission of intent in wrecking Chastain cost him $50,000 and a 25-point deduction in the driver standings, due to a penalty he was dealt by NASCAR. Chastain has not been penalized for any incident with Hamlin.

Ross Chastain races on the outside of Kyle Busch at the Bank of America ROVAL 400. (HHP/David Graham photo)

Triple Trouble For Elliott & Chastain In ‘22

There were three significant scraps between Elliott and Chastain last year, including the incident at WWTR in June.

A month earlier, during the All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway, Chastain plowed into Kyle Busch after the No. 18 cut a tire on his Joe Gibbs Racing entry and slowed on the track. The No. 1 Chevrolet caught air after bumping the No. 18’s bumper, launching over Busch’s front end and straight into the left rear of Elliott.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver then spun and endured a brutal hit against the wall, ending his day at the Fort Worth facility.

Then, during the championship race at Phoenix last November, title contenders Chastain and Elliott found each other on the lap-200 restart. Shortly after the field crossed the start-finish line, Chastain snuck up the inside of the No. 9 Chevrolet.

The two drivers made contact as both drivers held their line coming off turn one, with Chastain bumping the Elliott’s left-rear as the No. 9 cut down on the track. Elliott spun, hitting the in-field wall in his Hendrick Motorsports entry.

He finished 28th, while Chastain came in third.

Their joint rival, Team Penske’s Joey Logano, avoided the chaos and collected his second Cup Series championship.

Elliott and Chastain have kept their distance thus far this season, which arguably hasn’t been too hard, considering Elliott missed six races with a broken leg.

Will Chastain Strike Again?

Notably, the Trackhouse Racing driver is the series points leader heading into this weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway, but he’s gone more than a year without winning a race after winning twice in the spring of 2022.

Considering his tense relationships with many of his competitors and a lot of NASCAR fans, Chastain is never far from the spotlight. The question is, will that spotlight shine on the doghouse or the penthouse during Sunday’s AdventHealth 400?