Opportunistic Ross Chastain claims emotional NASCAR Truck Series win at Darlington

May 10, 2024
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service

DARLINGTON, S.C.— Taking advantage of a late caution, Ross Chastain surged ahead during an overtime restart and held off charging Nick Sanchez to win Friday night’s Buckle Up South Carolina 200 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race at Darlington Raceway.

Moonlighting from the NASCAR Cup Series in a race delayed more than two hours by rain, Chastain, driving for Niece Motorsports, led only the last three laps after seizing the top spot from Ty Majeski on the overtime restart on Lap 149.

Sanchez finished second, 0.315 seconds behind Chastain. Defending series champion Ben Rhodes was third, followed by Christian Eckes. Majeski, who chose the top lane for the final restart, faded to fifth.

“We have been trying to win at Darlington,” said Chastain, who picked up his fifth Truck Series victory and his first of the year in his second start. “This is where my career changed, my life changed forever.

“It’s so cool—we won Darlington.”

It was at the Lady in Black in 2018 that Chastain first turned heads in the NASCAR world. Driving a handful of NASCAR Xfinity Series races for owner Chip Ganassi, he won the pole at Darlington and swept the first two stages before an accident relegated him to a 25th-place finish.

But at that point, he had made his mark, and on Friday night, Chastain completed the circle.

Sanchez won the pole for Friday’s race but had to start from the rear after his team replaced a right rear hub on his No. 2 Chevrolet. On the final restart, he surged from the inside of the third row into second place but couldn’t catch Chastain before the finish.

Majeski lamented his lane choice after the fact.

“I should have taken the inside,” said Majeski, who held a lead of more than five seconds before Jack Wood hit the outside wall with five laps left to cause the seventh caution and force overtime.

“It sucks when you’re in position to win with a truck like that. We were so good on the long run and not so good on the short run. It would take 10-15 laps for this thing to get going, and then the thing was just lights-out.

“But it came down to a short run, and I didn’t execute like we needed to.”

Corey Heim, the series leader entering the race, swept the first two stages with 77 laps led, but after a Lap 98 restart, the No. 5 Toyota of Dean Thompson broke loose beneath Heim’s No. 11 Tundra at the exit from Turn 2 and ignited a wreck that severely damaged the trucks of Heim, Rajah Caruth, Layne Riggs and Matt Crafton.

Caruth, who was eliminated along with Heim, Thompson and Crafton, had started from the rear after scraping the wall during qualifying earlier in the day but had worked his way up to second by pitting for fresh tires midway through Stage 2.

“It’s real tight there off of (Turn) 2, and the 5 just kind of lost it there,” Caruth said after exiting the infield care center. “We had a really fast truck. We’ll get ‘em next time.”

Heim surrendered the series lead to Eckes and trails by 14 points.

Racing for the first time in a truck at Darlington, Kyle Busch was challenging Heim for the lead on Lap 2 when his No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet snapped loose on the backstretch and nosed into the inside wall.

Busch lost seven laps on pit road as his crew tried to make repairs. After he returned to the action, Busch pounded the Turn 1 wall and exited the race in 32nd place.

That result marked a dubious distinction for the all-time Truck Series winner with 66 victories to his credit. Before Friday night, Busch had never finished last in a Truck Series race.

“The truck was wrecked—there’s no reason it should have been back on the race track,” Busch told FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass after the second accident.

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Race – Buckle Up South Carolina 200
Darlington Raceway
Darlington, South Carolina
Friday, May 10, 2024

(6) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 150.
(1) Nick Sanchez, Chevrolet, 150.
(12) Ben Rhodes, Ford, 150.
(7) Christian Eckes, Chevrolet, 150.
(16) Ty Majeski, Ford, 150.
(19) Chase Purdy, Chevrolet, 150.
(18) Colby Howard, Toyota, 150.
(3) Taylor Gray, Toyota, 150.
(15) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 150.
(5) Tanner Gray, Toyota, 150.
(25) Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 150.
(22) Lawless Alan, Ford, 150.
(27) Timmy Hill, Toyota, 150.
(11) Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 150.
(29) Mason Massey, Chevrolet, 150.
(9) Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 150.
(28) Bret Holmes, Chevrolet, 150.
(32) Thad Moffitt #, Chevrolet, 150.
(30) Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 150.
(14) Jake Garcia, Ford, 150.
(8) Layne Riggs #, Ford, 148.
(17) Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 148.
(10) Daniel Dye, Chevrolet, 148.
(21) Conner Jones #, Ford, 145.
(23) Jack Wood, Chevrolet, Accident, 139.
(24) Tyler Ankrum, Chevrolet, 136.
(31) Mason Maggio, Ford, Brakes, 121.
(2) Corey Heim, Toyota, Accident, 105.
(13) Dean Thompson, Toyota, Accident, 97.
(26) Rajah Caruth, Chevrolet, Accident, 97.
(20) Matt Crafton, Ford, Accident, 97.
(4) Kyle Busch(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 6.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 101.983 mph.

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 0 Mins, 33 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.315 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 7 for 37 laps.

Lead Changes: 12 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders: N. Sanchez 0;C. Heim 1-49;T. Gray 50-52;C. Heim 53;T. Gray 54-57;C. Heim 58;T. Gray 59-67;C. Heim 68-93;G. Enfinger 94-96;T. Majeski 97-105;C. Eckes 106-120;T. Majeski 121-147;R. Chastain(i) 148-150.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Corey Heim 4 times for 77 laps; Ty Majeski 2 times for 36 laps; Taylor Gray 3 times for 16 laps; Christian Eckes 1 time for 15 laps; Ross Chastain(i) 1 time for 3 laps; Grant Enfinger 1 time for 3 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 11,19,98,17,38,45,5,99,52,9

Stage #2 Top Ten: 11,71,19,98,9,88,38,45,17,13

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com


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