WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. â Saturdayâs NASCAR Xfinity Series race didnât even get through the first of three stages before the battle of bumpers and words between Ross Chastain and Justin Allgaier escalated to a thermometer-bursting height at Watkins Glen International.
Chastain, one of the hottest drivers in NASCARâs three national tours, was short-circuited by retaliation from Allgaier, who drove on to a third-place finish in the Zippo 200. Chastain exited after completing just 19 of the 82 laps, coming home in 33rd place.
Allgaierâs JR Motorsports No. 7 Chevrolet spun and made contact with the retaining wall near the bus-stop chicane after receiving a shove from Chastainâs No. 4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet on Lap 14 of the Zippo 200. Allgaier continued, then gave Chastain a solid bump in return six laps later, sending his car careening into the Turn 5 barrier on the final lap of Stage 1.
RELATED: Official race results
Allgaier owned up to the purpose behind his payback bump, explaining that previous altercations with Chastain had built up his anger level.
âWeâve had a rocky relationship over our racing career,â said Allgaier, who recovered to lead 13 laps in the final stage. âUnfortunately, Iâve been on the receiving end a number of times of him running into me, and he flat wrecked me in the bus stop back there. At some point, you just get to a point of where youâre tired of getting run into, and so I ran back into him. I had no intention of putting him in the wall. I wanted to spin him out, for sure. I wanted him to kind of have the same feeling that I had a few laps before whenever he spun me out, and I did it in a position where there was nobody else around us and made sure that if it was going to be a crash that it was just going to be the two of us.
âI hate it for Johnny (Davis) and the 4 team because obviously with the budget that theyâre on, they donât need to be wrecking race cars, but on the flip side of it, he knew what he was doing when he got into the bus stop and wrecked me on purpose, and then even when I caught him back, he slowed way, way down and he knew that I was mad at him. You canât race like that and not have something come of it.â
Chastain issued a fiery reaction back to his crew over the teamâs communications immediately after the incident, saying he would find Allgaier at a later time. After a trip to the infield care center for a mandatory check-up, Chastain was more measured with his words.
âWell no, you donât expect to get wrecked like that at a NASCAR national series event,â Chastain said. âJust racing hard and mistakes on all sides, but Iâm glad that my nine-point safety harness did its job because I hit the wall a ton.â
Pressed for if Allgaierâs aggression crossed a boundary, Chastain demurred. âI donât know. I better keep my opinions to myself on that.â