AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ross Chastain won NASCAR’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix last year at Circuit of the Americas, and as a nod to his family’s watermelon-farming roots, he threw a big green melon on the track near the finish line to celebrate his first-ever Cup Series victory.

It’s a celebration he’s continued whenever he wins, but it started in Austin. On Friday, he took smashing fruit to a new level and threw a few off the 251-foot observation tower at COTA ahead of Sunday’s race. There was a tarp on the ground with targets he was aiming at, and the aftermath of the gravity-fueled fruit colliding with the ground caused huge holes in the tarp but brought big cheers from fans and other onlookers.

March, 24 2023: Ross Chastain (right) throws a watermelon off the observation deck at Circuit of the Americas before EchoPark Automotive Gran Prix practice. Chastain’s victory celebration is smashing a melon off the top of his car onto the track, and it started with his first win at Austin last year. (David Graham)

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The Alva, Florida native also signed watermelons he didn’t obliterate from the tower’s deck and gave them out as souvenirs for fans.

“It’s a little higher than I thought it would be,” Chastain said of COTA’s observation tower. “I was a little off to the right with my first one, with my last one I was about 3/4 of a watermelon off the bullseye.”

After his fruit smashing that would make the late prop-comedian Gallagher jealous, Chastain got in the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing and finished third in a practice run. He’s currently third in the Cup Series standings and finished 13th last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Race qualifying is set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday.