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Ross Chastain notched his first NASCAR Cup series victory by winning a two-lap, overtime sprint, claiming the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix NASCAR race at Circuit of the Americas Sunday in Austin, Texas.

Starting second on the final restart, Chastain muscled his way past race leader Tyler Reddick, was passed by A.J. Allmendinger after the white flag and returned the favor by tapping and getting Allmendinger out of shape.

Alex Bowman, who dive-bombed his way to the lead, was then hit by Allmendinger, and the Alva, Fla., native raced away to his first victory in his Chevrolet as the two cars in front of him slid off the course.

“I know (A.J.’s) going to be upset with me, but we raced hard, both of us,” said Chastain, who is nicknamed the Watermelon Man.

He smashed a watermelon onto the track after climbing on top of his Camaro and munched on some of it during the postrace interview.

“He owes me one, but when it comes to a Cup win, man, I can’t let that go down without a fight,” Chastain added.

The victory came in the 29-year-old Trackhouse Racing driver’s 121st career start. He has top three finishes in four straight races.

Bowman finished second, followed by Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott and Reddick.

By winning NASCAR’s sixth race of the 36-event Cup schedule, Chastain became the sixth different race-winner in 2022.

Polesitter Ryan Blaney led the 39-car field to the green flag in the 68-lap race — NASCAR’s second consecutive visit to the facility.

However, second-place starter Daniel Suarez had no desire to run beside Blaney and quickly took the lead during the first circuit around the 20-turn, 3.426-mile road course.

Suarez soon built a one-second lead in the race’s first stage, which was run without a caution. He breezed to a 1.91-second win over Blaney to claim the second stage win of his Cup career.

Austin Cindric gained the lead and gridded a second ahead of second-place Chastain. Meanwhile, Allmendinger — a two-time road-course winner in the series — advanced to third.

But the lead group had to pit as the second stage neared its end. Denny Hamlin took over the point and led teammate Kyle Busch by nearly nine seconds to claim the second stage on Lap 30.

On a restart with 22 laps to go, Chase Briscoe and Chastain fought back and forth as the top two cars with Allmendinger in third.

“At the end of the day, we know we had a shot to win the race,” said Allmendinger, a road-racing specialist. “It’s tough to win a Cup race. When you put yourself in a position to legitimately run up front all day and have a shot to win it, it’s a pretty great day.

“We just needed about two more corners.”

Chastain emerged with the lead, but the field was slowed when Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s car broke its drive shaft and stalled on the backstretch for the sixth caution with 15 to go.

A wreck involving Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch brought out the ninth caution — with Reddick passing Chastain on the inside before the yellow flag flew — to set up the dash to the end.

–Field Level Media


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