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NASCAR Cup Series Geico 500 Victory Captured By Ross Chastain After Last Lap Crash

From The Associated Press:

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Ross Chastain surged into the lead as he closed in on the checkered flag Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway to steal his second career NASCAR Cup Series victory.

Chastain simply stayed in line over the final few laps as leader Erik Jones and reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson fought for the win. Larson made his attempt on the final lap and Jones moved for the defensive block.

Chastain just pointed his Chevrolet straight, slipped past the leaders and won for the second time in five races.

“Holy cow! We didn’t do anything! We just stayed down there!” Chastain screamed over his radio.

The eighth-generation watermelon farmer from Florida then climbed out of his winning TrackHouse Racing through the open roof flaps – like a sunroof – and smashed a watermelon from the roof of the Chevy in celebration.

“I’m always the one going to the top early and making the mistake and there at the end it was like eight to go, and I was like, ‘I’m not going up there again,’” Chastain said. “I did that a couple of times today, I was like, ‘I’ll just ride on the bottom. I’m not going to lose the race for us.’

“I have no idea. They just kept going up. They just kept moving out of the way.”

Chastain that bit into a hunk of watermelon but this time asked on Fox Sports if any seeds had gotten stuck in his beard. He did his entire live television interview following his win at Circuit of the Americas last month with a bit of watermelon rind stuck on his face.

Chastain and William Byron are the only multiple race winners through 10 Cup events – a quarter of the season. He’s solidly locked into the playoffs with TrackHouse, a second-year team owned by former driver Justin Marks and Pitbull.

Chastain, in his first season with TrackHouse, never imagined so much success out of the gate.

“Are you kidding me? I’ve wrecked myself so many times and gotten into it with guys,” Chastain said. “Justin Marks and what he laid out for us was ambitious. I had no idea what to expect other than I knew I had my group from last year. (Sponsors are) believing in us. We started the year with a lot of races open (for funding). We’re almost full now, and it’s because of the vision of Justin Marks.

“We won, dude!”

Austin Dillon finished second for Richard Childress Racing in a 1-2 sweep for Chevrolet, while Kyle Busch was third in a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Larson wound up fourth for Hendrick Motorsports, followed by JGR driver Martin Truex Jr. and then finally Jones, who fell all the way to sixth trying to save the win.

“It’s typical here. Been close here so many times,” Jones said. “It just felt good to be up front coming there in that last lap. We were single file. I felt pretty good about it. Looking back, I wish I would have stayed on the bottom and let (Chastain) push me. I didn’t realize they were coming with that much speed.

“Trying to defend on (Larson), you’re too far ahead already. And obviously the defense on (Larson) kind of (opens) the door to (Chastain). You’re just trying to win the race. You can only see so much that’s going on from the seat and make the best decision you can in the last 1,500 feet.”

See the full AP report from USA today:

Geico 500 Results:

  1. Ross Chastain

  2. Austin Dillon

  3. Kyle Busch

  4. Kyle Larson

  5. Martin Truex Jr.

  6. Erik Jones

  7. Chase Elliott

  8. Michael McDowell

  9. Alex Bowman

  10. Kevin Harvick

  11. Ryan Blaney

  12. Justin Haley

  13. Aric Almirola

  14. Corey LaJoie

  15. William Byron

  16. Kurt Busch

  17. Bubba Wallace

  18. Denny Hamlin

  19. Landon Cassill

  20. Noah Gragson

  21. Austin Cindric

  22. Christopher Bell

  23. Brad Keselowski

  24. David Ragan

  25. JJ Yeley

  26. BJ McLeod

  27. Todd Gilliland

  28. Cody Ware

  29. Cole Custer

  30. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

  31. Daniel Suarez

  32. Joey Logano

  33. Ty Dillon

  34. Harrison Burton

  35. Greg Biffle

  36. Daniel Hemric

  37. Chase Briscoe

  38. Chris Buescher

  39. Tyler Reddick


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