Martin Truex Jr. explains his side of 'uncalled for' skirmish with Ross Chastain at Dover

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DARLINGTON, S.C. — Martin Truex Jr. voiced his displeasure with Ross Chastain’s driving tactics in last weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover Motor Speedway, explaining the basis of their post-race discussion Monday and the incidents that led up to it.

Chastain and Truex tangled in their last-lap contest for the third position with Chastain’s No. 1 Chevrolet drifting up into the path of Truex’s No. 19 Toyota. Chastain continued and placed third behind race winner Chase Elliott and runner-up Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but Truex slumped to 12th in the final order.

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The two exchanged words on pit road post-race. Saturday at Darlington Raceway, Truex explained that the final-lap skirmish was the culmination of multiple incidents that fed his ire.

“Well, he came up. I mean, I had a run to the outside, and he, his spotter told him I was there, and he just came up like I wasn’t there,” Truex said after qualifying fourth for Sunday’s Goodyear 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM). “So it caused me to lift and get in the marbles, ultimately crashed and lost six spots, seven, eight spots. So I don’t really know the reason. He ran me all over the race track all day, and I get it. He’s air-blocking. These cars are terrible in dirty air, he’s doing what he has to do, but I’m talking three lanes up the race track, all over.

Sean Gardner | Getty Images
Sean Gardner | Getty Images

“Like literally, just completely blowing and forgetting about making lap time. The guys in front of us are driving away, and he’s screwing around with me for fourth place. It’s the Cup Series, we don’t typically race like that. I just thought it was kind of uncalled for. And then obviously, the incident I was mad about — I wasn’t mad about the rest of it, which is ridiculous, but it is what it is, some guys will do it. And then the deal at the end of the race, just blatantly running me out of race track, that was what I was mad about.”

Chastain dodged when asked about their conversation during last week’s post-race interviews, saying they were discussing their next fishing trip together. He continued that running gag in Friday interviews at Darlington, joking that they planned to wet a hook in the minnow pond adjacent to the track’s Turn 4 bend.

But Chastain did say that in retrospect, he should have opted to let Truex by, which could have allowed both to track down Stenhouse in the late going.

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“I‘d say more the mistake was 30 laps before that, not just letting him go and hoping he got by Ricky and then I‘d get by Ricky, too,” said Chastain, who will start eighth Sunday at Darlington. “That‘s more what I mean. I mean the last lap is the last lap. We are coming back around to the checkered, I‘m going to race him as hard as I possibly can and try not to crash. I trust him and hope that he‘d trust me. It was like 50 laps before that or the beginning of that last run when he first got to me probably, looking back at it, let him go then and then try to get by Ricky and still finish third. But I didn’t.”

The two drivers sit also in close proximity in the Cup Series standings — Chastain in sixth and Truex seventh, with just two points separating the pair. Moving forward, Truex was asked if his post-race message at Dover was delivered.

“I asked him why he did it, and I’m not really sure he knows why he did it,” Truex said. “But it’s not going to happen again.”