Joey Logano wins first Cup race at Gateway as Chastain, Hamlin spar
By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer
MADISON, Ill. — The sold-out crowd for the NASCAR Cup Series debut in the St. Louis area got to see what all the talk is about for NASCAR fans.
They got to see some drama and an overtime restart at World Wide Technology Raceway, commonly referred to as Gateway.
"I hope you enjoyed that race," Logano said. "It doesn't get much better than that. Racing for the lead like that with Kyle, one of the best, it was a lot of fun."
Here are three takeaways from Gateway:
Chastain ruffles feathers
Early in the race, Chastain got into the back of Hamlin, sending Hamlin into the wall and ruining his day. Hamlin finished 11 laps down in 34th.
Chastain then spun Elliott as part of a side-by-side battle, with Elliott finishing on the lead lap but 21st.
"I overdrove [Turn] 3 and slid my left front getting in [to the corner]," Chastain said of the contact with Elliott. "I just completely blew the corner."
Elliott later tagged Chastain, and Hamlin ran beside Chastain and blocked him throughout the remainder of the race.
Chastain has two wins this year and is considered one of the top up-and-coming drivers. Despite the other drivers making his day difficult, he managed an eighth-place finish.
"It’s just terrible driving on my part," the 29-year-old Chastain said. "I should not be in this car if I’m going to do that."
Hamlin isn’t finished yet
Hamlin noted afterward that he never touched Chastain in making his life difficult. But he indicated that more could be coming.
"The sport is self-policing," Hamlin said. "And when you least expect it and when it means the most is when it comes back around."
NASCAR could tell Hamlin not to retaliate — it warned him during the race Sunday — but Hamlin seems determined to make a point.
"You’ve just got to fence these guys hard to get their attention," he said. "It’s going to have to be meaningful."
The contact from Chastain seemed to surprise Hamlin, who said nothing occurred before that to start a conflict.
"He got inside of us, and he kept trying to slide [by] us," Hamlin said. "He would wash up the track kind of right into the door for three laps in a row and finally tucked in behind us and ran into the back of us."
Logano likes first-time tracks
Of the six Cup events on new tracks since the start of 2021, Logano has won three: Bristol dirt last year, the temporary circuit for the Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and now Gateway.
"It’s being able to adapt quickly as a race team. I don’t think it’s just me," Logano said. "We were able to call the right strategies, adapt to restarts quickly, understand what lanes are going to move. ... I enjoy the challenge.
"It’s fun. But honestly, this weekend, we were just fast."
Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 following stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!