Through Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer
MADISON, Illinois – The sell-out audience for the NASCAR Cup Series Debut in the St. Louis area to see what NASCAR fans are talking about.
At World Wide Technology Raceway, commonly referred to as Gateway, they endured drama and a restart of overtime.
Ross Chastain so angered Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin that they took turns either tagging him or making him take lanes he didn’t want.
Amidst that sideshow and in a race where overtaking could be a challenge, Joey Logano passed leader Kyle Busch on an overtime restart and led the final two laps to claim victory.
“I hope you enjoyed the race,” said Logano. “It doesn’t get much better. Driving for the lead with Kyle, one of the best, was a lot of fun.”
OVERTIME: Joey Logano and Kyle Busch battle for victory at Gateway
A frantic overtime fight between Joey Logano and Kyle Busch results in Logano pulling off a slide job to win at Gateway.
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Here are three takeaways from Gateway:
Chastain ruffles feathers
Early in the race, Chastain got behind Hamlin, sending Hamlin into the wall and ruining his day. Hamlin finished the race 11 laps down in 34th place.
Chastain then turned Elliott in a side-by-side fight, but Elliott finished 21st on the lead lap.
“I exaggerated [Turn] 3 and slipped with my left front when boarding [to the corner]’ Chastain said of contact with Elliott. “I just completely screwed up the corner.”
Elliott later tagged Chastain and Hamlin ran alongside Chastain and blocked him for the remainder of the race.
Chastain has two wins this year and is considered one of the best young riders. Despite the other drivers making his day difficult, he managed to finish eighth.
“It’s just awful driving by my side,” said 29-year-old Chastain. “I shouldn’t be in this car doing this.”
Ross Chastain on his Gateway performance: “It’s just horrible to be driving from my side”
Ross Chastain talks about his performance at Gateway: “I shouldn’t be in this car doing this.”
Hamlin isn’t done yet
Hamlin later commented that he never touched Chastain by making life difficult for him. But he hinted that more could be coming.
“The sport is self-regulation,” Hamlin said. “And when you least expect it and it means the most, that’s when it comes back.”
NASCAR might tell Hamlin not to retaliate – it warned him during race Sunday – but Hamlin seems determined to make a point.
“You just have to fence these guys hard to get their attention,” he said. “It has to make sense.”
Chastain’s contact appeared to surprise Hamlin, who said nothing had happened prior to that to create a conflict.
“He entered us and kept trying to slide [by] us,” Hamlin said. “He would wash the track right in the door for three laps in a row and eventually latch behind us and run into our backs.”
Denny Hamlin talks about Ross Chastain’s ‘aggressive’ driving at Gateway
Denny Hamlin says paying back Ross Chastain will make sense and when he least expects it.
Logano likes first time tracks
Of the six Cup events at new tracks since early 2021, Logano has won three: Bristol Dirt last year, the temporary track for the Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and now Gateway.
“It’s able to adapt quickly as a racing team. I don’t think it’s just me,” said Logano. “We were able to name the right strategies, adapt quickly to restarts and understand which lanes will move. … I enjoy the challenge.
“It’s fun. But to be honest, we were just fast this weekend.”
What awaits Ross Chastain after Gateway? Bob Pockrass weighs himself in
Bob Pockrass discusses Joey Logano’s win at Gateway and Ross Chastain’s poor race, including Denny Hamlin’s reaction.
Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsport, including the past 30 Daytona 500. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 after working at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene Magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal . Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpock breed. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR newsletter with Bob Pockrass!
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