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NASCAR championship threat Ross Chastain faces tough odds after Talladega crash

Ross Chastain faces a long odds next weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in his quest to return to the NASCAR Cup Series championship race at Phoenix Raceway in November.

Leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr., by virtue of being amongst the first to pit and by how much fuel a car burns leading the big pack in a superspeedway race, ran out of gas on the final lap of the first stage. He bailed out of the pack to the outside but stacked up Kyle Busch behind him.

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Chastain, who just moved to the outside in the pursuit of stage points, also had nowhere to go and forced a four-wide pass on Busch that didn’t quite work out. He got turned into the wall, and it destroyed the steering rack on the Trackhouse Racing No. 1 Chevrolet.

“They were slow and tagging the fence and if they were that much slower, I should have just stayed behind them,” Chastain said. “Four wide was obviously not the right call. I saw a hole and tried to slide through there.”

Chastain entered the race 11 points above the elimination cutline in this middle race of the second round and was immediately 12 points below at the end of the first stage with more points to be collected before the end of the race.

Is he already turning to a must-win mentality?

“No idea,” Chastain said. “I don’t look too far ahead and we’ll see how it shakes out the rest of the day.”

Chastain felt like he had managed the first stage to the best of his ability and saw a chance to score some stage points once the leaders started mixing it up three-wide inside the final five laps of the stage.

“I felt comfortable and saved some fuel and felt like we could score some stage points,” Chastain said.

How does he feel about his road course acumen?

“We’ve put a lot of work into turning left and right so we’ll see what happens next week.”

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.