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Christopher Bell Calls Ross Chastain A ‘Wrecking Ball’ After Richmond Race
Christopher Bell’s stiff words are no surprise, but did Ross Chastain actually do anything wrong to deserve such criticism?
Never one to stray too far from controversy, Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain is, yet again, back in the Cup Series spotlight after his aggressive driving style late in the Toyota Owners 400 in Richmond drew the post-race ire of Christopher Bell.
With the leaders all jockeying for position during the final laps of the race, Bell in the No. 20 Toyota Camry tried to move up and out of the middle lane just as Chastain in the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro made a move to power forward into the bottom lane of the track. The maneuver caused Bell’s car to make contact with the rear of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro, piloted by William Byron, spinning him around to bring out the caution. Bell spoke candidly about the incident, following Kyle Larson’s victory Sunday.
“The bonsai came in and put us three wide,” stated Bell post-race. “The wrecking ball [Chastain] came in and made us three wide at the last second, and there wasn't enough room to be three wide.”
"He [Chastain] didn't do anything wrong, that's just his M.O.,” added a frustrated Bell. “I feel bad for the No. 24 [Byron] because he probably didn't get the memo that we're gonna be three-wide because I barely got the memo that we're three wide. That’s just the way it always is.”
Chastain is one driver in the Cup Series who regularly finds himself in hot water with other drivers, including Denny Hamlin, who NASCAR slammed with a $50,000 fine and 25 driver parts for publicly admitting on his Actions Detrimental podcast that his retaliatory fencing of Chastain in Phoenix was intentional. Chastain also had an incident with Kyle Busch at the start of the season during the Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles and another, more recent dust-up with his Trackhouse Racing teammate Daniel Suarez at COTA in Austin, Texas.
When Chastain was questioned about the incident with Bell and Byron in Richmond, the Watermelon Man was none too pleased to hear Bell label him as “the wrecking ball.”
"He [Bell] can say what he wants,” Chastain revealed after the race in which he finished third. “Like other guys, he walks right by me and doesn't say anything to me. I don't think I touched anybody, I was down there on my line."
“I don’t think I touched William, so I don’t think there was contact with William,” continued Chastain after being pressed by FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass. “I think we gotta say the facts and not opinions. I never saw the 24. I was underneath the 20, but I didn’t touch the 20 either.”
“If he’s going to call me a ‘wrecking ball,’ I just ... I don’t understand,” Chastain lamented further. “I didn’t touch anybody, and I got inside the 20, entering Turn 1. That’s all I saw.”
As upset as he was originally with Chastain, Bell’s position on the late-race incident on the next-to-last restart appeared to have shifted after he had time to review footage of the aftermath from the event.
Tweeting at Byron, Bell wrote, “After watching the replay, I saw there was much more room than what I thought in the heat of the moment. Sorry @WilliamByron.”
Noticeably missing from the apology was any mentioning of Chastain.
Though he had a different vantage point of how the wreck unfolded, for Byron, it’s just disappointing to endure the type of finish he had at Richmond.
“We definitely were a Top 3 car, which is good for this place, you know?” Byron noted. “You just kind of want to be in contention, have a shot. So, yeah, I mean, it’s good to have another great car. It sucks to finish in the 20s and hit the wall that hard. That’s never fun. But it is what it is.”
“Just looked like the 20 [Bell] got in there and overcooked my corner,” Byron added. “He was put three-wide underneath him. He just blew the corner, and I was the victim.”