The EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix came to a wild end as three drivers collided on the second-to-last turn. Ross Chastain won while AJ Allmendinger wrecked and headed to the infield care center. Once the veteran driver underwent evaluation, he delivered a direct message about the move.
“At the end of the day, we’ve all got to look ourselves in the mirror and be ok with it if you’re ok with it,” Allmendinger told FOX Sports’ Jamie Little after exiting the infield care center. “Every person is different. More than anything, [I’m] proud of Kaulig Racing.
“… At the end of the day, each person has to make the move that they’re comfortable with, and that’s fine. So we’ll — at the end of the day, it’s — we know we had a shot to win the race. It’s tough to win a Cup race, so when you put yourself in a position to legitimately run up front all day and have a shot to win it, it’s a pretty great day. Unfortunately, just we needed about two more corners.”
The incident unfolded after Chastain took the lead from Tyler Reddick on the final restart. He built up an advantage and took the white flag, but Allmendinger pulled within reach on the final turns. The two drivers, as well as Alex Bowman, all jockeyed for position and made contact with each other on the second-to-last turn. However, a final bump from Chastain sent Allmendinger into the side of Bowman’s No. 48 and off of the track.
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Allmendinger ended the day 33rd overall while Chastain won his first career race. Bowman finished second, matching his career-best performance at a road course. He also finished second at the Charlotte Roval in 2019.
Chastain Explained His Last-Lap Moves
As the person that bumped Allmendinger and prompted the wreck, it was inevitable that Chastain would field questions about the contact. He first acknowledged to FOX Sports’ Regan Smith that Allmendinger would be upset with him and that his former teammate “owes him one.” Chastain then provided some more context in a separate interview.
“It got physical there in 15 with AJ,” Chastain told PRN after exiting his stock car. “I missed the line a little bit and he moved me. Fair is fair. Got back to him in the carousel, Alex got underneath me and into 19 I just had to do what I had to do. I’ll stand by that. I’ve been wrecked before, I had to stand up.”
Chastain and Allmendinger have a history together. They worked together at Kaulig Racing in 2019 and 2020, and they shared information about certain styles of tracks. Chastain even mentioned in his post-race interview that Allmendinger had taught him so much.
The driver of the No. 1 used this knowledge and secured his first career victory. He also set himself up for potential retaliation at a future track. After all, Allmendinger will make five more points-paying starts in 2022, as well as the All-Star Race. Now he will just have to wait and see if Allmendinger will punt him at any point.
Bowman Provided Some Important Advice
Bowman also faced numerous questions about the incident after finishing second overall in the No. 48 Chevrolet. He explained to PRN that he is friends with Chastain and that the driver of the No. 1 “is a pain in the a** to race with.”
Bowman also provided some “advice” to Chastain while meeting with media members. He said that he has been on the other side of the situation, such as when he made contact with Denny Hamlin and sent the No. 11 spinning during the elimination race at Martinsville Speedway.
“I’ve been on the other side of it, so I have to live with it,” Bowman said, quote courtesy of FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass. “Talk about Martinsville, I had to live with that. Best advice I have for Ross on that is put it on a t-shirt and sell the hell out of them.”
Bowman has sold multiple t-shirts after incidents at the track. He created the “Hack” shirt after Hamlin’s post-race interview at Martinsville, and he used the proceeds to both purchase Martinsville clocks for his team and to support animal shelters. Bowman also created another shirt after winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2022 and becoming the focus of a Kyle Busch rant. Now Chastain could follow suit with a shirt featuring a mirror.