Chip Ganassi Racing announced Thursday that Ross Chastain will drive three races (Darlington, Las Vegas, and Richmond) in the No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
The move creates an opportunity for the 25-year-old, who will now get to drive a car that has won four-times in 2018. However, it could be argued this chance is long overdue.
After his exit from Brad Keselowski Racing in 2013, Chastain jumped around seats before settling in with JD Motorsports in 2015, a team that had only had five top-10’s in the previous three seasons with a multitude of drivers.
In the three following seasons, Chastain scored six top-10’s and picked up the organization’s first top-five since 2011. The improvement has continued into this year, only placing outside the top-20 four times and an average finish of 16.6.
The impact he has made cannot be questioned, as all of this shows that he has been a crucial part in turning Johnny Davis’ teams from the underdog to a group more than capable of success.
Chastain also impressed during his time with Premium Motorsports in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, most notably when he placed 20th in his debut at Dover in 2017. Since the team expanded his role this year, he has only finished 30th or worse six times in 22 starts. Again, notable considering the limited resources he has.
This move doesn’t just effect Chastain though; it affects the entire XFINITY Series, as the most important note of all this is where currently sits in the points standings.
The Florida-native currently holds the last playoff spot, with a 42-point advantage over the cutoff. Meaning, the driver, who has already done a lot with a little, is about to get in one of the best rides in the sport.
Breaking down his current schedule with CGR, it is two regular-season races and one playoff. Meaning, if Chastain can capitalize with getting playoff points and maybe even a win, this would create the opportunity to give him leverage that he may not have been able to get otherwise heading into the final seven races.
If he makes the playoffs though, the real story here would be the Richmond race. A solid night and or win could be the difference from Chastain being the feel-good story that gets eliminated in the first round, to somebody who advances further in the quest for a championship.
As former JD Motorsports’ teammate Ryan Preece has shown during his time with Joe Gibbs Racing, you give a driver a shot in quality equipment they take advantage. Chastain’s break could prove big, given the success he can attain.
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