Chastain knew Pocono payback has been coming for months

Ross Chastain knew he was owed one by Denny Hamlin, and he believes that’s what he got Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

The Trackhouse Racing driver was the race leader when the green came back out with 18 laps to go. Chastain had chosen the outside lane and Hamlin restarted on the inside. The two raced each other hard going into Turn 1, and Hamlin, as expected, didn’t give an inch.

As the two moved up the track on corner entry, Chastain was moved out of the groove and bounced off the wall. The contact with the outside wall sent Chastain back across the racetrack and into the path of Kevin Harvick. Then the No. 1 Chevrolet hit the inside wall.

“I think we all knew what was owed to me, and today he cashed that in,” Chastain said.

Hamlin hasn’t been happy since Chastain moved him out of the way June 5 at World Wide Technology Raceway admitted he meant to hit Hamlin, although he did it too hard. The two were battling for a top-five spot when Hamlin was sent bouncing off the outside wall and then spent the rest of the afternoon messing with Chastain.

While there hasn’t been contact between the two drivers since then, Hamlin had promised it would come when it mattered. The issue never seemed resolved on his end. So when Chastain and Hamlin lined up side-by-side on the restart Sunday afternoon, the Trackhouse driver said he wasn’t going to be the aggressor.

“I know that my actions bear consequences,” he said. “So, for a month or two, I knew I stepped over the line and wrecked him, so he decided to return it today.”

Had there not been previous history between the two, Chastain doesn’t believe he finishes 34th at Pocono with a wrecked race car.

“No, I had that one coming, and if I would have raced smarter two months ago, I probably would have had plenty of room off Turn 1,” he said. “I’ve realized that for the last month or two, and it’s just too late for that so…I’ll go onto Indy.”