By David Morgan, Associate Editor
That was all Ross Chastain needed to punch his ticket to the championship race Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but the driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet was unable to hold off Joey Logano down the stretch and had to settle for a second-place finish in the South Point 400.
Chastain was quick all day long, starting from 11th place and leading on four different occasions for a race-high 68 laps led.
On the final restart with 16 laps to go, Chastain ascended to the lead over Chase Briscoe and pulled away to a lead of more than a second, but behind him, Logano was putting his fresher tires to use, slicing through traffic on his way toward the lead.
After taking over second place, Logano set his sights on Chastain, the win, and a berth in the Championship 4, but Chastain was not going to go down without a fight.
With six laps to go, Logano caught Chastain with a huge run down the frontstretch, but each time Logano tried to get around him, Chastain threw the block, but as they battled side-by-side through Turn 4 passing a lapped car heading to three laps to go, that was the opening Logano needed to eventually pass him and pull away for the win.
“For our Tootsie’s Chevy, that was all we had,” Chastain said. “There was a clear difference in tires there, so we fully believed that we could hold him off and win the race on the tires we had, and Joey did a good job of getting through the field.
“At the end there, I hope I’m racing that guy for a really long time, and for our Tootsie’s Chevy and everybody at Jockey and Worldwide Express, Advent Health and the Moose, like we’ve been saying all year, this is the arrival of Trackhouse, and I wouldn’t want to be doing it with anybody else.”
Chastain explained that he was doing his best working off the feedback from his spotter and the views from his rear-view camera, but once Logano got position on him, there wasn’t much more he could have done to hold off the hard-charging No. 22 Ford.
“Just instinct takes over and it’s all camera based,” Chastain said. “[Brandon] McReynolds is up in my ear from the top and just giving me information and coaching me, but I’m the one making my decisions and my moves.
“You know, I’m sure I can go back and find a few things, and to run the top there and let him get inside of me, I thought I had one more corner to do that, and he just got positioned on me there on the frontstretch, and we were just really tight.”
With Sunday’s finish in the books, Chastain now heads to next weekend at Homestead-Miami with an 18-point advantage over the cut-off line as he will look to be in the mix for the win once again.
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