Ross Chastain didn’t want to be in the Turn 1 carnage on the final restart of Sunday’s race on the Indianapolis road course so he took the access road and left it to NASCAR officials to decide his fate.
After initially crossing the finish line second and appearing to have battled Tyler Reddick for the race win, Chastain ended up being penalized for the move and placed 27th in the finishing order. His avoidance act kept his Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet in one piece. However, NASCAR issued Chastain and Austin Dillon, who pulled the same move that Chastain did in the same corner, 30-second time penalties for short-cutting the course.
“I thought we were four wide, and I couldn’t go any further right and decided to take the NASCAR access lane out there,” Chastain said.
Chastain sat fourth going into the final restart in the Verizon 200. When his teammate, Daniel Suarez, made a move to the right going into Turn 1, Chastain ended up on the far outside of Suarez, Ryan Blaney, and AJ Allmendinger. He didn’t try to make the Turn 1 corner entry, instead staying in the gas and going straight off the course and through the access road.
When Chastain made it back onto the racing surface, it was in Turn 3, and he was side-by-side with leader Reddick. Chastain took the top spot from Reddick through Turns 5 and 6 before Reddick retook control in Turn 14.
Chastain said the move wasn’t preplanned but a natural reacti on on the restart.
“I took it in practice just overshooting Turn 1,” Chastain said. “Just wanted to not get hit and merged back on where I merged.”