DARLINGTON, S.C. (BVM) – Kyle Petty has become one of the few defenders of Ross Chastain following multiple incidents involving the top-ranked driver in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“Get off of Ross Chastain’s back,” Petty said in a video for NASCAR and NBC Sports.
“He is the new kid on the block and no one seems to like the new kid on the block.”
At the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway, Chastain was doored by Kyle Busch during the race, and Busch said on a radio transmission he did it as a warning to Chastain to stop driving aggressively. Following the race, Noah Gragson confronted Chastain and got into a fight with him because Chastain had caused Gragson to make contact with the wall, ruining his race. NASCAR announced this week neither would face any punishment for the fight.
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The fight as well as the incident with Busch are only the most recent examples of what is becoming a common thread among Chastain’s peers in the Cup Series, but Petty says he has seen it all before.
“Everybody likes to complain about Ross Chastain,” Petty said in the video. “Most recently he is what Joey Lagano was … Everybody loved to complain about Joey Lagano.
“When you have a new guy running at the sharp end of the stick, what I mean is, winning races and challenging the establishment, people are going to complain.”
Chastain has certainly been winning. The driver of the No. 1 car is atop the standings with 404 points with Christopher Bell in second with 373 points. Chastain has yet to win a race this season, but he does have five top-five finishes.
His driving is leading to success out on the track, and according to Petty, it’s a style of driving that is all too familiar to a man that has been around racing his entire life.
“Ross Chastain drives like Richard Petty, like Cale Yarborough, like Dale Earnhardt Sr. did in a lot of ways, like Joey Lagano does,” Petty said in the video. “He has one purpose. It’s to win the race. He didn’t come to make friends … He came to take your trophy and to take your money. And that’s what he does on a fairly consistent basis.
“Is he aggressive? Yes. Is that okay? It’s okay with me. Should be okay with you.”
Petty has no problem with Chastain’s aggressive driving. It’s a part of Chastain’s competitive nature, and like Petty said, he’s not going to these races to make friends, he’s there to win. His success paired with the drama surrounding him is good for NASCAR. It makes people want to tune in to see what might happen between Chastain and another driver.
To compare Chastain to some of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history is high praise, but Petty deems Chastain worthy of it. He even went as far as to say what Chastain has is something he lacked during his racing career, but he knows it when he sees it.
“I was not the driver Ross Chastain is,” Petty said to finish the video. “I was not the driver Richard Petty was. I was not the driver a lot of these guys were. But I tell you what, I saw those guys race. I understood how they raced. I understood what was in their heart. I couldn’t get there, they got there and Ross Chastain is there.”