When Ross Chastain won the pole for last year’s Ally 400—not only his first NASCAR Cup pole but the first pole for Trackhouse Racing—he called his shot before leaving the Nashville Superspeedway media center.

The previous month had been brutal for the 30-year-old racer, on and off the track. Many of his peers attacked Chastain for being overly aggressive. This pole was self-needed vindication for the driver.

Tears of relief, of joy and satisfaction flowed freely from Chastain after he climbed from the No. 1 Chevrolet following time trials. Chastain had won twice during the previous season, but now he was 16 races into 2023 without a victory.

Following his post-qualifying press duties, Chastain stopped to admire the iconic guitar trophies awarded to the race winners at the 1.333-mile oval in Lebanon, Tennessee. He the turned and proclaimed, “I’m coming back for this tomorrow.”

The humble watermelon farmer from Alva, Florida, said he regretted the words from the moment they left his mouth.

“That's not how I normally think, and definitely not what I would say—even if I do think it,” Chastain said with a smile. “So, definitely had some moments that night when I laid down in bed. I thought, ‘All right, I did say that. And y'all did hear me.’

“Then I think I even said, ‘Did I really say that out loud?’ Like it was just a thought? I didn't know it was gonna come out. Just a natural feeling, though. It just came out naturally.”

During his availability, Chastain described his accomplishment as “a day that I will truly never forget. No matter how the weekend goes or the rest of the year …”

If topping time trials was a day he was never going to forget, the next 48 hours would be beyond memorable for the 30-year-old racer.

Sure, Chastain had won before. A wild three-wide move between AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman provided Chastain with the lead and win at Circuit of the Americas in March of 2022. Four races later, he won the spring race at Talladega.

But that had been 43 races ago. Trackhouse’s drought had reached 37 races—back to Daniel Suarez victory at Sonoma Raceway. The team, whose owner Justin Marks is based in Nashville, was riding a rollercoaster of results over the four races entering Music City. Both drivers wrecked at Darlington Raceway, and the pair each had just one top-10 finish entering the weekend.

Still, Chastain and the Phil Surgen-led team were fast off the truck. Prior to winning the pole, the No. 1 Chevrolet was third on the speed chart in practice and second in best 10-lap average. Entering the Ally 400, Chastain had the first pit stall, which proved to be advantageous over the course of the race.

“We've had chances to win all three years there,” said Chastain, who enjoys a 2.7 average finish at the track. “But it's not easy though. It's not like we just roll in there and have the speed. We've worked on it. We've we have really evolved our ourselves, there.

“I don't walk into the weekend thinking something different. But once I feel the race car, practice qualifying—obviously qualifying on the pole for first time—there wasn’t nobody feeling better at that moment than me.”

After leading the first 42 laps, Chastain finished second in Stage 1. He led again before finishing third in the second stage and then lined up third behind Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. for the final run with 107 laps remaining. Over the long run, Truex's car became too loose and Chastain passed the No. 19 Toyota for second on Lap 227.

With 59 laps remaining, Chastain pitted behind Hamlin. A solid pit stop combined with the advantage of the first stall enabled Chastain to exit pit road ahead of Hamlin. Twenty-six laps later, Chastain cycled out to the lead. He held the point for the final 34 laps for his first win at Nashville Superspeedway and a hometown victory for Trackhouse.

“When Justin had this idea of Trackhouse, he didn't go back to Huntersville, North Carolina, or Mooresville or Charlotte, where he lived as a driver,” Chastain said. “He went to Nashville, where he had this idea for Trackhouse. He moved there, moved his family there and had this idea. And he incubated it. And he curated into this thing that is a winning cup team.

“To go there and win—and unfortunately, he and Erin (Marks’ wife) were really sick that weekend. They were not feeling good. But still, to go downtown to Broadway, to go to Tootsie’s (Orchid Lounge) because Steve (Smith, owner), Mr. Steve was one of the early investors. He was one of the early guys to buy in when Justin had this idea. Justin said, 'I can't really show you much. You’re just going to have to trust me' ... and Tootsie’s did."

Chastain won’t elaborate on his victory celebration at the infamous Nashville honky tonk other than to say the party was “wild.” Did the farmer perform the watermelon crawl?

“I cannot confirm or deny,” Chastain added. “I can only say that we had a really good time.”