TrackHouse Racing stars in surprise NASCAR Cup Series playoff

Daniel Suarez, left, and Ross Chastain give a pre-race interview during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Circuit of the Americas, Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Austin, Texas.  (AP Photo/Steven Spielman)

Daniel Suarez, left, and Ross Chastain give a pre-race interview during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Circuit of the Americas, Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Steven Spielman)

AP

Ross Chastain admitted that stars lined up to get him here – sitting in one of those high-rise folding chairs and answering questions ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series qualifiers.

Well, he said everything Align right.

“Stars, galaxies, everything, all the parts,” said Driver #1 with a smile. “Life is not fair, and it will probably never happen again to anyone else the way it did to me.”

TrackHouse Racing was, in some ways, the regular season surprise of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series. Even more surprising was the appearance of the Cup drivers on Team of the Year Two: There Chastain, who has racked up two Cup wins this year and is making waves (and enemies) for his racy, bodily racing style. All season. Then there is Daniel Suarez, who became the first Mexican-born driver to win a Cup Series race when he took home the checkered flag at Sonoma in June.

The drivers reflected on the past two years – TrackHouse Racing’s growth as well as their personal travels – on Thursday at NASCAR’s Media Match Day in Charlotte.

It’s exactly where I wanted to be,” Chastain said.

Chastain signed a long-term deal with THR in August 2021 after a short and undisclosed career.

In 101 races, Chastain had previously driven for Premium Motorsports, Spire Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing before signing with Ganassi—who sold the team to TrackHouse in June 2021—and made just two of the top five and seven of the top 10 at the trophy level.

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NASCAR Cup Series driver Ross Chastain speaks with reporters at Trackhouse Racing in Concord, North Carolina on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. Chastain won his first NASCAR Cup win and Trackhouse Racing’s first-ever victory at Circuit of the Americas on Sunday, March 27, 2022 Jeff Sener jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

However, TrackHouse Racing owner Justin Marks saw enough to sign him to a multi-year contract – something Chastain hadn’t had before – and saw enough to allow him to keep his team around.

“Those were the building blocks of what I saw this year,” Chastain said. “Then, the new car that NASCAR and the Family of France introduced was the catalyst for TrackHouse, which is the main reason we were able to take our group of people and go and compete the way we enjoy. It was exactly where I wanted to be.”

Suarez has also been vocal about his two-year career with TrackHouse.

Chevrolet’s 99th driver became the team’s first driver when he signed with them in October 2020. He was the fourth Team Xfinity Series Champion of 2016 in four years.

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Daniel Suarez during the Daytona NASCAR 500 motor racing media day at Daytona International Speedway, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) John Raoux AP

He said that – like Chastain – he was given the freedom to keep his team and was injected with faith.

“Believe it or not, with 2021 approaching, I had the opportunity to go with a team that was winning races,” Suarez told reporters. “And I didn’t do it because it was a team that a really important person, someone with a lot of experience, told me was (not) in a very good position. That’s why I chose TrackHouse.

“My father told me I was crazy. Some friends from Mexico asked me, “Are you sure you were making the right call?” Eight months later, they said, “Yeah, glad you made that call.”

Chastain and Suarez, among the fastest on the field at several racetracks in 2022, are threats of deep playoffs – something not many people expected ahead of the 2022 regular season.

“Sometimes you have to trust your intuition a little,” Suarez said. And Justin looked right in the eye and said, ‘Man, you’ve got to trust me with this. We’re going to build something great. And I want to be able to give you the opportunity to build a team around you, which no one has ever allowed me to do in the Cup Series.'”

“It makes a big difference when you have a team You are, Unlike a team that was already there. So I am very happy to be in this position.”

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Harrison Burton, 21, airlifts in a crash while being caught between Denny Hamlin, left, and Christopher Bell, right, during the NASCAR Daytona 500 Auto Race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, February 20, 2022, in Daytona Beach, Florida (AP Photo/Don Howard) Don Howard AP

Other notes from Media Day

Denny Hamlin Withdrew from the Xfinity Series race in Darlington due to soreness in his neck, back and hips Field assembly wreckage in Daytona last weekend. When asked about it, he said that “in terms of the body, I was hit by a much stronger blow than I had in the past.”

The comment sparked rhetoric about whether NASCAR is doing enough to keep drivers safe, especially in light of Kurt Busch He still suffers from a brain injury He struggled during qualifying in Pocono in July. Kevin Harvick He also added to the conversation, “I think everyone is over now because it’s still happening. Now you have someone who’s hurt, and someone else who’s been kind of hurt from a religious standpoint, and I think everyone wants to know, ‘What’s the progress here?'” How will we make this better? What’s the plan? If not this year, what is the plan for next year? “

Chase Elliot, the regular season champion, echoed the sentiments of many other drivers when he said there is a lot of parity in the field this year, and therefore no favourite. He also said that while the qualifying experience is likely to be beneficial, this year it has proven that anything can happen. Elliot led the field with Four cup titles in 2022.

Ryan Blaney He is the only driver to compete for the championship trophy without winning a regular season. He opened up to reporters on Thursday about the last few weeks he’s been in fending off the attack Martin Truex Jr.and he He hopes the playoffs will bring him a “fresh start”.

Kyle Bush gave An update to his contract negotiations. He noted that news may come soon and that several different contract offers have been extended to him.

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Alex Zietlow writes about NASCAR, Charlotte FC, and the ways sports intersect with life in the Charlotte area for The Observer, where he has been a reporter since August 2022. Zietlow’s work has been honored by the NC and SC Press Association, also as an APSE, which gave him a Top 10 Ranks in the Beat Writing and Short Feature categories in the 2021 Writing Contest. Previously wrote for The Herald in Rock Hill from 2019 to 22.

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