Ross Chastain’s aggressiveness on the track has irritated some of his fellow drivers, and it all came to a head Sunday when Noah Gragson confronted him after the race at Kansas.
Chastain ended up hitting Gragson before NASCAR officials could separate the two drivers. Gragson later said that he was «sick and tired» of Chastain’s aggressiveness. Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch and Brennan Poole have also had run-ins with Chastain over the course of the 2023 season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. offered a different take on the situation. He said on the latest episode of the «Dale Jr. Download» podcast that Chastain does a lot of things similar to what his father did. Dale Earnhardt, known as «The Bully» during his track days, upset many drivers and backed up his own aggressiveness with victories.
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«Dad was doing very similar things at the racetrack,» Earnhardt Jr. said. «He’d drop people off and go out. He didn’t really apologize for it as much as Ross does, but he would go out and say, ‘Hey, I don’t know what you’re talking about. That wasn’t dirty driving. I got into it. My mistake.'»
Earnhardt added that he sees a marketing opportunity for NASCAR, Trackhouse Racing and Chastain.
«The people around Dale Earnhardt around ’86, ’87, through the ’90s, those people around him, they capitalized on his actions on the track. They created a personality, through marketing, through souvenirs, that reached the whole country, if not global,» he said.
«‘The Intimidator,’ the ‘Man in Black,’ do you know where you first saw them? On a hat. On a T-shirt. Dale Earnhardt didn’t walk onto the race track and say ‘Hey, from here outside, I’m the Man in Black. ‘From here on out, I am the Intimidator.’
«That was a marketing campaign. That was a T-shirt, that was a hat, which he took off. He became a person.»
ROSS CHASTAIN PUNCHES NOAH GRAGSON ON PIT ROAD WHILE NASCAR RIVALRY FUCKS
He added in a separate tweet Tuesday that he wasn’t saying Chastain is the new «Intimidator,» but did offer that there’s a marketing opportunity there.
«All these people tell me who Dale Earnhardt was… I’m not saying Ross is the new Mr. I’m just saying Nascar/Trackhouse has a chance to capitalize on the spotlight. In a similar way Nascar and the souvenir business did with Dad «. (and others) in the late 80’s early 90’s».
The 30-year-old Florida native has two NASCAR Cup Series wins since making his debut in 2017.
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The circuit heads to Darlington, South Carolina, on Sunday.