TALLADEGA, Ala. — Ross Chastain surged into the lead as he closed in on the checkered flag Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway to steal his second career NASCAR Cup Series victory.

Chastain simply stayed in line over the final few laps as leader Erik Jones and reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson fought for the win. Larson made his attempt on the final lap and Jones moved for the defensive block.

Chastain just pointed his Chevrolet straight, slipped past the leaders and won for the second time in five races.

“Holy cow! We didn’t do anything! We just stayed down there!” Chastain screamed over his radio.

The eighth-generation watermelon farmer from Florida then climbed out of his winning TrackHouse Racing through the open roof flaps — like a sunroof — and smashed a watermelon from the roof of the Chevy in celebration.

“I’m always the one going to the top early and making the mistake and there at the end it was like eight to go, and I was like, ‘I’m not going up there again,’” Chastain said. “I did that a couple of times today, I was like, ‘I’ll just ride on the bottom. I’m not going to lose the race for us.’

“I have no idea. They just kept going up. They just kept moving out of the way.”

Chastain that bit into a hunk of watermelon but this time asked on Fox Sports if any seeds had gotten stuck in his beard. He did his entire live television interview following his win at Circuit of the Americas last month with a bit of watermelon rind stuck on his face.

Chastain and William Byron are the only multiple race winners through 10 Cup events — a quarter of the season. He’s solidly locked into the playoffs with TrackHouse, a second-year team owned by former driver Justin Marks and Pitbull.

Chastain, in his first season with TrackHouse, never imagined so much success out of the gate.

“Are you kidding me? I’ve wrecked myself so many times and gotten into it with guys,” Chastain said. “Justin Marks and what he laid out for us was ambitious. I had no idea what to expect other than I knew I had my group from last year. (Sponsors are) believing in us. We started the year with a lot of races open (for funding). We’re almost full now, and it’s because of the vision of Justin Marks.

“We won, dude!”

Austin Dillon finished second for Richard Childress Racing in a 1-2 sweep for Chevrolet, while Kyle Busch was third in a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Larson wound up fourth for Hendrick Motorsports, followed by JGR driver Martin Truex Jr. and then finally Jones, who fell all the way to sixth trying to save the win.

“It’s typical here. Been close here so many times,” Jones said. “It just felt good to be up front coming there in that last lap. We were single file. I felt pretty good about it. Looking back, I wish I would have stayed on the bottom and let (Chastain) push me. I didn’t realize they were coming with that much speed.

“Trying to defend on (Larson), you’re too far ahead already. And obviously the defense on (Larson) kind of (opens) the door to (Chastain). You’re just trying to win the race. You can only see so much that’s going on from the seat and make the best decision you can in the last 1,500 feet.”

PENSKE PROBLEMS

Roger Penske was at the track seeking a second Team Penske superspeedway victory this season but saw three of his cars knocked out in one crash.

Joey Logano was in the third row on a restart during the second stage and not even up to full speed when Bubba Wallace knocked him out of line and into the outside wall. Logano’s car then shot back down into the field and teammates Austin Cindric, the Daytona 500 winner, and Harrison Burton, who drives for Penske affiliate The Wood Brothers, were among those collected in the eight-car crash.

The crash actually collected five of the 16 Ford drivers in the race, and an earlier accident knocked out another two when Chase Briscoe and Chris Buescher were eliminated. The Ford group was the most organized manufacturer at the season-opening Daytona 500 and used their strategy to get Cindric into victory lane.

It marked the third time in the last four races at Talladega that Logano has crashed out, and it was his first DNF of the season.

“You’re getting pushed from behind. You’re pushing the car in front. There’s nothing you can do, and I was the one that got shuffled out,” Logano said. “It stinks. It’s Talladega. I don’t know, some people love it. I can’t say I do.”

UP NEXT

The Cup Series races next Sunday at Dover International Speedway in Delaware. Alex Bowman is the defending race winner.