Chastain chasing Trackhouse’s 1st win this season at the team’s home track of Nashville

FILE - Ross Chastain smiles prior to a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, May 29, 2023, in Concord, N.C. Ty Norris has heard NASCAR fans both cheer and boo Chastain. The president of Trackhouse Racing also wishes NASCAR had 40 drivers just like the man nicknamed the “Melon Man" who races hard chasing wins and titles. Now Trackhouse Racing needs Chastain to start by winning for the first time this season. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ty Norris has heard NASCAR fans both cheer and boo Ross Chastain, who seems to make more enemies by the race.

The president of Trackhouse Racing doesn’t mind: Norris thinks NASCAR should have 40 other drivers just like his ” Melon Man.”

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“Ross is a driver that has become comfortable in making other drivers uncomfortable,” Norris said. “He doesn’t mind going three-wide. He doesn’t mind going up against the wall. He doesn’t mind poking his nose in there when he wants the space.”

That aggression has crossed a line at times for some. Chastain punched Noah Gragson after the race at Kansas earlier this year. Chastain also spun Chase Elliott, NASCAR’s most popular driver the past five years, early in the final stage of last year’s finale — costing Elliott a chance at a second title.

His on-track encounters are plentiful and that kind of driving and emotion from Chastain helps make NASCAR more interesting — even if others get ticked off. Norris made clear Chastain isn’t out there simply to stir the pot; he’s trying to win and compete for the Cup Series championship.

That competitive drive shows up every time Chastain gets behind the wheel.

Trackhouse Racing needs Chastain to start by winning his first race this season, which would lock him into the playoffs for a second straight year. He goes into Sunday’s race at Nashville Superspeedway fourth in the Cup standings as the series resumes after the lone week off in the 38-race season. Only 32 points separate the top seven drivers.

Racing well at Nashville also means a bit more with Music City officially Trackhouse Racing’s home base. Trackhouse will even have Taylor Lee, who competed on “The Voice,” performing an acoustic set before the race at the team’s haulers.

Chastain doesn’t see any added pressure competing at Nashville, where he finished fifth last year in a weather-delayed race. Winning matters most.

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