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Ross Chastain is blossoming into one of the NASCAR Cup Series’ most popular drivers. Whether that’s for the right reasons, though, is disputed. Chastain’s reputation as a fast, exciting driver is growing almost as quickly as his reputation as a troublemaker, and it’s sowing the seeds of dislike among fans and competitors.

Chastain etched his name into NASCAR history in 2022 with an iconic wall-riding pass that will never be repeated; it has since been banned. The Floridian carried that momentum forward to finish second in the championship with two race wins under his belt, a major leap from his previous best of 20th in the championship.

But the chaotic Chastain has started 2023 by causing enough trouble to get some fans to overlook his storybook 2022. A week ago in Kansas, close racing with Noah Gragson turned into contact that snowballed into an infield scuffle that had to be broken up. Some fans love to see that type of personality injected into the sport, and NASCAR didn’t attempt to bury the drama, but it surely turned a few fans sour if social media is anything to go off of.

Drivers for the same make of car—in this case Chevrolet—avoid conflict when possible, but Chastain’s fellow Chevy drivers are getting fed up with him. Case in point, Kyle Larson, whom Chastain wrecked into at Sunday’s race at Darlington. The two made contact on multiple occasions, including in the closing laps while fighting for the lead. Their final spat left them both in the back half of the field, infuriating the owner of Larson’s car, Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports.

“I don’t care if he’s driving a Chevrolet if he wrecks our cars,” Hendrick told NBC Sports. “I don’t care. I’ve told Chevrolet that. If you wreck us, you’re going to get it back. If you don’t do it, they’ll run all over you.”

“I’m loyal to Chevrolet, but when somebody runs over us, then I expect my guys to hold their ground,” Hendrick continued. “I’m not going to ask them to yield just because of Chevrolet.”

Chastain has taken the blame for that collision, though that may not be enough for Hendrick.

Heroes can still be hated, as the lionized Dale Earnhardt Sr. once proved. But grudges come easier than forgiveness, and Hendrick thinks Chastain could compromise his long-term prospects if he doesn’t watch his behavior.

“If you have a lot of people wanting to pay you back, then it’s hard to win a championship that way,” said Hendrick.

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