By Tom Zulewski
Iron County Today
LAS VEGAS — Over the course of his career, Ross Chastain knew the potential to get to Victory Lane was always there. Under a blazing sun in the car that carried the race’s title sponsor, the 25-year-old finally saw the light of a winning NASCAR moment.
Chastain led 180 laps but had to hold off a hard-charging Justin Allgaier to take the checkered flag in the DC Solar 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was Chastain’s first victory in 132 career starts in NASCAR’s No. 2 series.
“I expected to win, but I expected to win in the 4 car a long time ago,” said Chastain, who drove the No. 42 for Chip Ganassi Racing with DC Solar on the car. “We all knew what happened at Darlington (25th place finish after starting on the pole). I knew we were good yesterday and I slept really well because I knew how good the car was.”
About the only hiccup in Chastain’s day came when he qualified fifth, but it didn’t take long for him to grab control of the 200-lap race. Chastain took the lead from pole-sitter Cole Custer on lap 3 and swept the first two stages in the final race before the 12- driver playoff field was set.
Allgaier has already clinched the regular-season championship and the 15 bonus points that go with it, but he was still competitive in his No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. He led 16 laps, but couldn’t get by Chastain down the stretch.
“I was frustrated in the moment, but Ross definitely had the best car,” Allgaier said. “I tried to do everything I could to pass him as clean as I could. I didn’t want to give away any points, especially for the owners’ championship.”
The duel for the win between Allgaier and Chastain was weaved in and out of lap traffic over the final 20 laps, but Chastain held on and will start the playoffs at Richmond next weekend from sixth place.
Custer finished third, followed by Christopher Bell and Elliott Sadler to complete the top five. The average speed was 119.259 mph, and the race was slowed by eight cautions for 40 laps.
The rest of the XFINITY playoff qualifiers were Daniel Hemric, Brandon Jones, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Truex, Matt Tifft, Austin Cindric and Ryan Reed.
CAPTION: Ross Chastain celebrates on the infield after winning the DC Solar 300 NASCAR XFINITY race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Photo by Tom Zulewski