Why Ross Chastain lost NASCAR's Verizon 200 runner-up finish after penalty at IMS

Rob Peeters
Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS -- On the final restart of Sunday's Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, Ross Chastain missed the first corner ... but re-emerged battling for the lead with eventual race winner Tyler Reddick. At the conclusion of the race, NASCAR penalized Chastain and dropped him from 2nd place to 27th place, the final car on the lead lap.

Chastain restarted from the fourth position on the outside. When the track closed up on the entrance to Turn 1, Chastain missed the corner and took the access road in oval Turn 4. He returned to the track in Turn 3 and ran side-by-side with Reddick through the penultimate lap.

Reddick was confused and nervous to battle with Chastain because he wasn't sure if Chastain was going to receive a penalty.

"It didn’t seem like real life," Reddick said. "I was like, what? I was waiting to see what was going to happen with that situation because I think I had Jim Pohlman say, 'Hey, he’s probably going to get penalized.'

"I was trying to race him as hard as I could, but I saw Austin Cindric was right there, and if you get battling side by side in certain sections of this racetrack, you can really hurt lap time on both drivers and allow third place to catch up. It was kind of a complex situation for a couple seconds there, but thankfully I was able to get momentum on Ross in a pretty convenient spot and make the pass for the lead and then check out from there."

With a look of regret in his eyes, Chastain addressed his decision to avoid turn 1 to NBC's Dave Burns after he climbed from his No. 1 Chevrolet.

"I was trying to not be in the carnage in Turn 1," said Chastain. "I saw we were four wide and I couldn't go any further to the right, so I decided to take the NASCAR access road."

Disappointed in himself, Chastain made it known that it was not part of the plan to cut the course, but simply that he did so to avoid an accident.

NASCAR's decision to penalize Chastain came due to the fact that Chastain did not make an attempt to give his advantage back. Chastain was in 4th place on the restart and exited Turn 3 side-by-side with the race leader. Had Chastain made an attempt to slow himself down prior to re-joining the track, it is unlikely he would have been penalized, but he also would not have been near the lead.

Chastain's penalty moves everyone on the lead lap up one position in the final finishing order. Austin Cindric, who finished second, scored his best finish of the year since he won the season opening Daytona 500. Rookies Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland scored their career best finishes Sunday with Burton finishing third and Gilliland finishing fourth.