Ross Chastain slammed a watermelon onto the track at Talladega Speedway Sunday afternoon to celebrate his second NASCAR victory of the season.
And Chastain’s victory was both wild and opportunistic. He didn’t take the lead until the last stretch of the final lap at Talladega to claim the Geico 500 title.
“Holy cow,” Chastain exclaimed during an interview with Fox Sports. “I’m always the one going to the top too early and making a mistake.”
Chastain said he forced himself to “ride the bottom. I’m not going to lose the race.” And his plan worked to perfection. He chose not to make a move. Surviving was the key to the win.
Take a look at the race’s final few moments. The NASCAR social media account described it as WOW!
Chastain is an eighth-generation watermelon farmer from Florida. So when he wins, he celebrates the family way. He got to do the watermelon party for a Cup win for the first time last month at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Tx.
He drives for Trackhouse Racing, which is in its second year on the NASCAR Cup Series. Justin Marks, a former NASCAR driver, and Pitbull, the pop star from Miami, own the team. The social media team posted a victory clip. Despite its newness to NASCAR, the team is one of the most prominent.
Meanwhile, Austin Dillon finished second, with Kyle Busch in third. Drivers spent the afternoon at the iconic speedway, racing 188 times over the 2.66-mile track.
Kyle Larson, who dominated NASCAR last season, was in command at Talladega for much of the final stage. But Larson’s lead didn’t hold up.
“Felt like I did a pretty near perfect job for me at a superspeedway until the last lap,” Larson told Fox. “Should’ve faked going high and staying low. (They) kind of baited me to go to the outside. … Honestly (we) did a good job of leading, made one small mistake, cost me there.”
Larson was hoping to pick up his second victory of the season. Instead, Chastain got that honor. Larson also finished fourth last Sunday on the dirt at Bristol.
Erik Jones, who jockeyed with Larson for the lead for much of the last few laps, was sixth.
“Thought today might be the day, knew we had a chance, but it didn’t work out,” Jones said.
Bubba Wallace, who enjoyed his first career Cup win the last time NASCAR races in Talladega, didn’t finish strong Sunday afternoon. He was hoping to become only the fifth driver ever to post four consecutive top-two finishes at the superspeedways of Talladega and Daytona. After winning the first stage Sunday, Wallace finished 17th overall.