Ross Chastain Loses Car Chief for Regular-Season Finale

Ross Chastain

Getty Ross Chastain races at Michigan International Speedway.

The No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team needs a win to reach the playoffs, but they will enter the regular-season finale shorthanded. NASCAR has suspended the team’s car chief for an equipment malfunction following the Aug. 22 race at Michigan International Speedway.

NASCAR issued a penalty report following Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney’s victory at the two-mile oval. The sanctioning body noted that the No. 42 of Ross Chastain lost an axle during the race. The result is the suspension of the car chief for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on Aug. 28.

In addition to suspending Chastain’s car chief, NASCAR will also issue monetary fines to two teams. The No. 23 of Bubba Wallace and the No. 51 of Cody Ware both had one lug nut not safe and secure during post-race inspection. This violation of Section (Tires and Wheels) in the NASCAR Cup Series Rule Book will result in a $10,000 fine for the crew chiefs of each team.

Chastain Headed to the Garage Early at Michigan

The driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro started the FireKeepers Casino 400 in the 22nd position, next to Chase Briscoe. He competed early in the race, but he made an early trip to the garage.

The NBC Sports broadcast initially did not provide any information about Chastain’s departure from the track. The only indication that something was not right was the timer on the screen that showed the length of pit stops. While other drivers made stops lasting between 12-14 seconds, Chastain remained on pit road for multiple minutes.

The broadcast crew ultimately confirmed that Chastain’s team had pushed the No. 42 to the garage, but questions remained about the reason until the CGR Twitter account revealed that there was a fire in the rear end of the stock car.

Chastain’s ride headed to the garage on lap 109 and remained there for nearly 50 laps. He was finally able to make his return to the track on lap 157 and make some moves up the leaderboard. He ended the race 48 laps behind the leaders but passed both Austin Dillon and Joey Gase, who both wrecked early.

Chastain Can Still Reach the Playoffs

The driver of the No. 42 finished outside of the top 30 at Michigan International Speedway, but he remains in contention for a spot in the playoffs. He is actually one of 15 drivers that will enter the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway with an opportunity to clinch.

The list includes Chastain, Tyler Reddick, Austin Dillon, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Darrell (Bubba) Wallace Jr., Chase Briscoe, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Newman, Ryan Preece, Cole Custer, Anthony Alfredo, and Corey LaJoie.

According to a report issued by NASCAR, Reddick holds the advantage with a 25-point lead over his teammate, Austin Dillon. He sits in the final spot in the 16-driver field. Though his spot remains tenuous due to the lack of a win in 2021.

If Chastain can win at Daytona, he will leapfrog Reddick and take the final spot in the playoff field. This is the only way that the driver of the No. 42 can secure his spot. He currently sits 20th with 492 points, 185 behind Reddick with only one race remaining.

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