Several drivers have weighed in about Ross Chastain after his last-lap pass and contact with AJ Allmendinger that cemented his win in the March 27 race at Circuit of the Americas. Kevin Harvick, the 2014 Cup Series champion, has explained that Chastain’s style of racing will make him very popular.
Harvick provided the insight on April 2. He met with media members and used the availability to compare Chastain to his teammate, Chase Briscoe. Harvick explained that both drivers have had to fight for everything in their careers and that they are super aggressive. Harvick also acknowledged similarities between a younger version of himself and Chastain while noting that the driver of the No. 1 has the ability to balance aggressiveness on the track with avoiding wrecks.
“It’s important to have that flair and that fire because that’s what’s going to set you aside from everybody else,” Harvick said on April 2, quote courtesy of FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass. “Having some of that personality and some of that, ‘I don’t give a s***’ attitude about what happens. And if you don’t like it, sorry. Having that edge is something that will make him popular because of the way that he races. He doesn’t have to do anything else. Just race like that, and people will gravitate toward you because it’s exciting to watch and you’re winning.”
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Harvick is not the only driver to discuss Chastain’s style of racing. Alex Bowman also made comments after the race at Circuit of the Americas. He explained that he is friends with Chastain and that he was happy to see him win. The driver of the No. 48 also said that his friend is a “pain in the a**” to race against.
Harvick’s Attitude Resulted in a Special Nickname
The veteran Stewart-Haas Racing driver has his fair share of aggressive moves throughout his career. He hasn’t hesitated to move other drivers out of the way, take part in some fights, or make strong comments during his post-race interviews.
The man with the nickname “Happy Harvick” previously spoke about his aggressiveness during a 2016 interview with Graham Bensinger. He explained that he was brought up to be this way on the track while pushing for wins. He also acknowledged that he had made some mistakes early in his Cup Series career by angering some veterans.
“When I started, I was 25 years old, and you didn’t really care about what anybody else thought. You just wanted to go and try to win races and have fun,” Harvick told Bensinger. “There’s a respect that you have to gain from the garage and your peers and the drivers and owners. Because if you don’t then it has a strange way of flushing you out. You become nonexistent.
“You have to fit in and you have to compete in a somewhat fair way and try to balance that with trying to win and also trying to be fair to the competition. It’s definitely a balance. Our garage has a funny way of the guys that have been there a long time making it really hard on you as you go through the years.”
Chastain Has To Keep His Passion & Desire
Chastain has not had a simple journey to the Cup Series and his first career win. He has made numerous starts in the three national series for a wide variety of teams, including some without much funding. He has run full-time, part-time, and as an injury replacement for Ryan Newman.
Chastain finally secured a spot with a good team during the 2021 season. He took over the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro at Chip Ganassi Racing and set out to pursue a spot in the playoffs. However, he experienced yet another setback when he learned that Trackhouse Racing had purchased Chip Ganassi Racing. This major business deal meant that Chastain would once again have to worry about finding a full-time seat.
He achieved this goal and secured a spot with Trackhouse Racing after initiating contact with owner Justin Marks. Chastain took over the No. 1 and became a teammate of Daniel Suarez. He then won his first career Cup Series race after four previous top-five finishes. Chastain is now in the playoffs with a major accomplishment checked off, but Harvick wants him to keep the same level of passion in the future.
“The most important [thing] for guys like that is to not lose that desire that got him to this point,” Harvick explained. “Learn to still treat this as ‘you don’t have a job tomorrow’ and still carry that enthusiasm year after year after year. That’s the trick to being successful at this a long time.”