NASCAR Cup Series
Drivers discuss teammate dynamics in light of Daniel Suarez-Ross Chastain squabble
NASCAR Cup Series

Drivers discuss teammate dynamics in light of Daniel Suarez-Ross Chastain squabble

Updated Apr. 3, 2023 1:56 p.m. ET

RICHMOND, Va. — Teams typically line up by their cars or their pit stall for pre-race ceremonies.

The Trackhouse Racing teams did neither Sunday at Richmond Raceway. The Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez teams walked down pit road to meet and stand together.

It was a simple gesture, but an important one considering their drivers traded words a week earlier following the race at Circuit of the Americas.

"We're brothers," Chastain said. "We're a family. It's Trackhouse, and we're a home.


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"To just make that effort to walk 15 pit stalls toward each other and stand side-by-side shows the world that it's us against the world."

In stories about teammates, the focus often centers on whether drivers race their teammates differently than other competitors.

But what about mending fences? How much of a difference is there when mending fences with a teammate and a non-teammate?

As one can probably figure out, it is much different. Sometimes the team owner will get involved. In the case of the Trackhouse drivers, that didn't seem necessary.

"We just worked it out on our own," Suárez said. "We know what we did. It's not the first time we've been in this position and probably won't be the last one.

"That's part of racing. Both cars on a consistent basis are running in the top-five and we're going to have situations like this. Sometimes I'm going to be unhappy with him and sometimes he's going to be unhappy with me. I don't see it as a big deal when it comes to Trackhouse. There is no story there."

"We're going to have situations like this"

Daniel Suarez and teammate Ross Chastain discussed mending fences after their issue the week prior at COTA.

Trackhouse has prided itself on two teams with one goal of winning races. For the most part, it appears the organization has more cohesiveness among its two teams than other multicar organizations (obviously it can be easier to do that with two rather than three or four cars).

Chastain has been in his share of run-ins with other drivers, and he approaches the disagreement with Suárez as one that needed to be addressed quickly.

"We have to get it mended," Chastain said. "There's no other way. ... No matter what we all think, we have to put that behind us and know that moving forward that we're brothers.

"We don't always get to pick our family. We're brothers at Trackhouse, and we're going to be stronger together."

Most teams have competition meetings the Monday or Tuesday after each race. Unless a driver has a sponsor commitment, the drivers would have to see each other and interact — or at least be cordial.

"When you're in the same team, you're kind of forced to [mend it] — you have to address it," driver and team co-owner Denny Hamlin said. "Typically when I have an incident with a teammate, you have your Monday morning meeting and then you talk it out after everyone leaves the room.

"That's just the most convenient time. You can talk face to face."

Talking things out

In light of the Daniel Suarez-Ross Chastain incident, Denny Hamlin said a driver has to address the differences he has with a teammate.

Getting to that point will often be facilitated by team leadership.

"That has more to do with the team owner," Kyle Busch said. "When I had an issue with Jeff Gordon a long time ago, Rick [Hendrick] brought us in and sat us down and we talked.

"Myself and Denny ... that was where Joe [Gibbs] had to get involved and talk us through our differences."

Busch has a philosophy when it comes to the drivers of his truck team and how to help them get along.

"When I've had drivers at KBM that don't get along, I talk to them individually, and then I bring them together and talk to them together," Busch said.  

Drivers don't have to be best friends, but they know that if they want to run well, feedback from their teammate should help the organization improve the cars at a quicker rate.

"He may need glasses"

Kyle Busch gave his thoughts on the Daniel Suarez-Ross Chastain incident at COTA, while Chastain reacts to Busch’s comment about him needing glasses.

"You have to mend those fences," said Ryan Blaney, who has had his frustrations with teammates Joey Logano and Austin Cindric over the years. "Other drivers, if you get into it on the racetrack, ... you might not put as much of an effort to mend those fences.

"Maybe if it's someone you're not too fond of, you might put minimal effort to mend a fence. You might mend it with a nail instead of a teammate you're going to mend that thing with screws and wire and maybe even a little bit of glue, just because you're trying to work together."

Hamlin echoed that a feud with a non-teammate can mostly just continue with no mending of fences.

"You can just avoid it if you want to," Hamlin said. "You don't have to return calls or text messages back. You don't have to answer them in person. ... You're forced to as teammates. You don't have to the other way."

One of the reasons to mend those fences quickly is to keep the crews from being in an awkward position. The crews often work together and train together. If their drivers don't get along, they might feel they need to choose sides.

"Crew members, you can't have them being mad at each other, too," Blaney said. "It's a weird situation between those guys.

"It's like, ‘Oh, my driver is mad at the teammate driver. Should we be mad at each other, too?' Then it's a weird dynamic in the shop, so those things have to be dealt with quickly."

"You have to mend those fences"

Ryan Blaney shares his thoughts on settling disputes with other drivers and how it may be different when it’s a rift between teammates.

That might be a reason why the Trackhouse crews stood together Sunday.  

"We had our issue," Chastain said. "Like brothers from the beginning of time, we argued and it's over.

"Now we stand side-by-side and nobody has my back like Daniel. And he knows that I have his."

Thinking Out Loud

NASCAR could have started the Xfinity race Saturday in the damp as it has wet weather tires and the cars at Richmond Raceway were equipped with windshield wipers and mud flaps. But NASCAR made the right decision to spend the extra 20-to-30 minutes to dry the track and start in the dry.

While some fans view it as why have the cars equipped to run in the damp if they're not going to use it, NASCAR should only run in the damp if it had no other choice. If it appeared there would be more rain that could threaten the race, then fine, start in the damp.

The best NASCAR racing on an oval is going to be in the dry and not with any issues of grip or vision issues because of spray. The fans deserve to see these drivers at their best as long as there is confidence the race could get completed to its full distance and not too much later than originally planned.

In The News

--Tricon Garage driver Dean Thompson was released from a Dallas hospital Saturday night after a hard wreck in the truck race at Texas Motor Speedway. Thompson, whose injuries weren't specified, went to the hospital for scans and will have to be reevaluated this week to be approved to race Bristol this weekend.

--NASCAR granted Xfinity Series driver Josh Williams a waiver from the requirement that a driver must attempt to qualify for every race in order to be playoff eligible. Williams needed a waiver after serving a one-race suspension for parking and leaving his car at the start-finish line during the race at Atlanta.

--The Kaulig Racing appeal for a modified louver penalty from Phoenix will be Wednesday. The Denny Hamlin appeal for being penalized for wrecking Ross Chastain at Phoenix will be Thursday.

Social Spotlight

Stat of the Day

Kyle Larson's 14 wins at Hendrick since joining the team in 2021 are at least twice the number of any other driver in the same span — Chase Elliott (seven), William Byron (five), Alex Bowman (five).

They Said It

"I was flipping through old YouTube videos this week of my 2021 season so I could remind myself that I used to be good." —Kyle Larson after winning in Richmond for his first victory of the 2023 season

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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