OK, raise your hand if you picked Ross Chastain to finish second this past weekend in the NASCAR Cup Series’ first trip to Nashville Superspeedway? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Using deft pit strategy to his fullest advantage, Chastain — who was searching for the second top-five finish of his Cup career — seemingly came out of nowhere to finish second on a day when virtually no one would have predicted such an outcome. Now, as the series heads to Pocono for races on back-to-back days, Chastain is amped about the possibilities. Others should be as well. If Chastain can finish that well when no one expects it, others should be able to do the same.
“I just want to compete,” said Chastain, whose previous career-best finish of fourth came last month on a wet Circuit of the Americas road course in Austin, Texas. “That’s the biggest thing. I’m racing with my heroes. I want to compete with them, and I want to beat them. I’m just trying to keep my confidence up. I’ve realized I just need to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Another driver who comes into the weekend encouraged is Alric Almirola, who scored his first top-five of 2021 with a fourth-place finish at Nashville after starting from the pole. “It just feels good,” Almirola said. “It’s been such a tough year, and it’s easy to get down on yourself and not have a lot of confidence. Confidence is something that comes with results. You can’t fake it, so ... it certainly makes everybody have a little pep in their step when things are going in the right direction.”