Even though he won two races, made it to the Championship 4, and cemented himself in NASCAR history, Ross Chastain is uncertain. The NASCAR driver is having somewhat of an identity crisis, and it’s all thanks to how successful he was in 2022.
They always say that the second year is the hardest. It is referred to by many things. The sophomore slump is the most popular. While this isn’t Ross Chastain’s second year in the Cup Series, it’s his second year as a winner in the series.
That can be a daunting thing to face, following up your career-best season with something even better.
“Look,” Chastain told NASCAR.com, “last year was the arrival of Trackhouse and Daniel and myself. I had a new car and a new team to lean on for kind of the unknown and be confident in the unknown that we would come out strong, but we didn’t know. I honestly feel less confident sitting here today than I did one year ago. And I know it might sound odd. It’s something I’ve been working through with my coaches, but I feel like there’s more things I need to do to be better to sustain what we arrived last year and did.”
Even though he got to where he did last year by being himself and racing his style, he knows he can go further. Ross Chastain understands that his wild antics on the track can catch up to him. So, that adds even more pressure.
Ross Chastain Has to be ‘Precise’
There is something to say about the fact Ross Chastain’s style of racing is frowned upon by fellow drivers but cheered on by fans. It’s something that the sport lacks at times. A villain. Someone willing to break the unspoken rules. Chastain also happened to get wins by doing that.
He wants to lock in on his driving in 2023, though.
“I don’t have great words for it, but simply put, I feel like that I have to work harder now than I ever have,” the driver said at Martinsville during the barrier removal. “And I have to drive the car in a more precise way and be better. And I’ve worked my whole life to be as good as I am right now, and trying to find that next unknown piece of how to drive the car a little bit better, how to handle a loose car or a tight car and how to just perform in those key moments in Cup racing.”
Right now, those worries are likely starting to melt away. Ross Chastain has finished P9, P3, and P12 in the first three races of the season. He’s won three stages and leads the Cup Series in points.
While he has worries, it appears that the Trackhouse Racing driver has figured things out. At least for the time being. This new short-track package could end up throwing a wrench into things.