Like everyone in the NASCAR world this week, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had many thoughts on the Ross Chastain-Kyle Larson drama at Darlington. He talked about it on his Dale Jr. Download podcast, including multiple hypothetical situations about the controversy.
Co-host Mike Davis raised a question towards Earnhardt about whether Trackhouse Racing and owner Justin Marks could privately be disappointed in the move because of what could have happened.
“If you’re Justin Marks, you’ve had Ross’ back publicly,” Davis asked. “Can’t you honestly have a problem with this though because Ross could have won this race? Ross needs a win by the way. He hasn’t won in more than a year. Trackhouse hasn’t won this year after that big momentum. Justin Marks is always going to have his guys’ back. But can’t you, as an owner, a race team owner, go: Ross, we could have had this one?”
Earnhardt said that as an owner he wouldn’t be able to say that because of the situation Chastain was facing against Larson.
“I don’t think that I would be able to tell Ross that,” Earnhardt said. “If I was the owner, so Larson did a really good job on the restart. Basically what I’m curious about is how they feel about the lane they chose. Ross beat Larson on the outside and became the control car when the caution comes out like that. Ross gave Larson the blueprint to the next restart. Larson gets a great launch and they go into one and they’re side-by-side.”
Now, Marks has come out and addressed the situation, saying they are “aggressively handling” it, as this has not been Chastain’s first incident in recent memory. In fact, he’s been all over the headlines in recent weeks.
But Earnhardt does understand where Chastain was coming in from in the lead-up to the crash with Larson.
“Of course when the restart happens Chastain wants to launch and be clear, right,” Earnhardt said. “But he showed Larson the restart before how to beat it on the outside. Larson’s one of the best. I think that Chastain was a little leery of starting on the outside because he didn’t want the potential of Larson washing up into him, getting into his left rear quarter panel, right.
“In that moment, can you trust everyone on their line and not make contact? I don’t know. It’s hard to do. That was an interesting thing where we’re Chastain beats Larson on the restart. Larson’s the control car and Chastain’s on the outside. Bext restart he chooses the inside. If Larson’s on your door going into one, now you’re in the worse spot now Larson’s in the preferred line. You choose that inside but you got to beat him into the corner. And if you don’t, and he’s on your door into one, I’m not sure you can beat Kyle Larson in that scenario.”