Is there a new Intimidator in NASCAR?
Obviously nobody will ever be able to replace the late, great Dale Earnhardt. He earned his nickname the Intimidator from his take-no-prisoners racing style and aggressiveness on the track. When his black #3 pulled up behind you, you knew he was going to do whatever it took to get by you. And if you caught up to Earnhardt, good luck getting around him without a hell of a fight.
Remind you of any current-day NASCAR drivers?
Well NASCAR spotter and co-host of the popular Door Bumper Clear podcast Brett Griffin is wondering whether Ross Chastain is the modern-day Intimidator on the track.
On a recent episode while discussing Chastain’s recently on-track run-ins, Griffin posed the question:
“Is this guy the new Dale Earnhardt? In terms of how he races? Are people intimidated by Ross Chastain?
Is that a fair question? Why aren’t they doing anything back to him.”
Chastain, like Earnhardt, has ruffled more than a few feathers on the track, especially during the past couple years now that he’s in top equipment at Trackhouse Racing.
There was his well-publicized feud with Denny Hamlin last year after Chastain knocked Hamlin into the wall, and Hamlin spent the rest of the race trying to get back at Chastain.
Then a few weeks ago, the feud boiled up again when Hamlin admitted to wrecking Chastain late in the race at Phoenix Raceway – although Hamlin also ended up damaging his own car while trying to get revenge, and was ultimately fined and docked points by NASCAR after admitting to the intentional contact on his podcast.
And over the past couple weeks, Chastain’s been the talk of NASCAR with the aggressive moves he’s pulled on the track that have resulted in wrecked race cars.
At Talladega, Ross made an aggressive move to the inside of Noah Gragson on a restart, trying to squeeze his car into a hole that wasn’t quite big enough, and the result was a crash that sent Gragson spinning into the outside wall and also ended in hard hits for Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece.
Then last week at Dover, Chastain was once again a source of controversy when he made an aggressive move and bumped Brennan Poole, who was no longer on the lead lap, and once again ended up taking out Larson in the aftermath.
After the wreck, Poole had harsh words for Chastain, saying that the driver of the #1 car “probably needs to get his butt whooped.”
But as Griffin pointed out, people are saying that Chastain needs to get his butt whooped, but nobody’s actually done it:
“If you’re gonna go whoop somebody’s ass, go do it…
Ross doesn’t believe that anybody’s gonna do anything to him. And until they do, he’s not going to stop…
I think they’re afraid of Ross. I think they’re afraid that if they get him back he’s just going to get him again…I mean why hasn’t somebody paid him back?”
Of course Noah Gragson did try to pay Chastain back after the race this weekend at Kansas, when Chastain raced Gragson hard coming out of the turn and ended up putting Gragson into the wall.
Gragson confronted Chastain on pit road, but Chastain once again ended up getting the better of his competition, landing a punch squarely on Gragson’s jaw before the fight was quickly broken up.
So much for paying him back…
When Griffin’s co-host Casey Boat pointed out that she doesn’t think Chastain is intentionally wrecking anybody, but is just being aggressive on the track and doesn’t care what he has to do to get to the front, Griffin pointed out that it was that same mentality that was possessed by Earnhardt on the track:
“So did Dale Earnhardt. He meant to rattle his cage.”
Now even Griffin admits that Ross Chastain is Dale Earnhardt…but is he the closest thing we’ve got on the track these days?
I have a feeling there are a lot who disagree and will be up in arms at any comparison between Chastain and Earnhardt, but you’ve gotta admit, Chastain has that same don’t-give-a-f*ck driving style that made Earnhardt so popular – or unpopular, depending on when you’re talking about.
I guess we’ll see if anybody pays Chastain back on the track, or whether he really is the new Intimidator.