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NASCAR Cup Series

Chastain Shines In Cup Series Debut

When it was announced that Ross Chastain was going to make his Cup Series debut at Dover in an effort with Premium Motorsports, discussion was kept to a minimum.

Expectations were realistic, with Chastain saying before the weekend, “My goal Sunday is to finish all the laps and minimize mistakes. Anything else will be a bonus. I’m not looking at it as an audition by any means, but it’s a chance for me to get some great experience.”

The 24-year-old impressed, though, bringing the No. 15 home in 20th for the highest non-restrictor plate finish for the team. Although, it wasn’t just the box score that was notable.

Throughout the event, Chastain did a solid job at adapting. He improved upon his 36th starting position early, fought hard to stay on the lead lap and avoided trouble throughout the 400-mile race.

Without a doubt, a day like this was one of the best case scenarios for Chastain and may be exactly what his career needed. While he’s done well in the NASCAR XFINITY Series with JD Motorsports and has collected two top-10’s this season with Bolen Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, it hasn’t garnered him much attention. Runs like these will, and while he may have said that this wasn’t an “audition,” this could be something teams will look at going forward.

By exceeding expectations in his debut, Chastain has shown he can compete at this level, and Sunday’s performance could very well be the stepping stone that may lead to more opportunities in NASCAR’s top-tier series.

Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL MITCHELL AT mitchell.breuer@popularspeed.com

TWITTER: @MitchellB66

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Clements Leaves Bristol with Black Eye

A rain delay during a NASCAR event typically breeds boredom. But the turn of events after the Lap 162 red flag, wasn’t very typical. 

During a portion of the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 for the NASCAR XFINITY Series that lead to the red flag, drivers Ross Chastain and Jeremy Clements made contact. After the drivers had exited their respective cars, Clements approached Chastain to discuss the incident and subsequently put his hand on his shoulder. Chastain wasn’t in the mood to chat and proceeded to turn and punch Clements, who stated an altercation was not his intention.

“Somebody grabbed me and turned me around, and I saw red eyes and a face that wasn’t going to talk,” Chastain said. “It was a reaction on my part. I’ve never punched anybody in my life. I don’t know what I’d do if I could do it all over again. I can’t let people come up and grab me. It’s happened before in NASCAR and out of NASCAR. I felt like I had to stand my ground.’’

Clements made a brief trip to the care center to be treated and released for a swollen left eye. 

“I’ve talked to him before, and it doesn’t get us anywhere,’’ Clements said. “I don’t know what to do. I try to race him clean all the time. He cuts you no slack, and sometimes we’re running for 22nd and 23rd and (he) just door slams you. It’s uncalled for.’’

The pair met with NASCAR after the event, and left shaking hands.

“I feel bad,’’ Chastain said. “We run against each other. We work together. We buy motors from them. They build our motors, so it’s not good for me to do that. We’re good and on to Richmond.’’

Clements and Chastain finished the race 17th and 31st respectively.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Trucks

Ross Chastain Taking Full Advantage of Truck Opportunity

Going into this season, Ross Chastain was only locked in to run the full NASCAR XFINITY Series for JD Motorsports. However, another opportunity came up via Bolen Motorsports.

Last season prior the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Talladega Superspeedway, Jeff Bolen reached out to Chastain about driving for him. The partnership worked out solidly with a 15th-place finish.

“He said if there was anything else, he would like to do it again,” Chastain told POPULAR SPEED. “It just worked out that going to Daytona, he needed someone to drive and wanted to race. So we did, and that didn’t go well actually – we crashed on Lap 1, basically. But he still didn’t let that get him down, and basically, I kept thinking he would want someone else to drive it, but he kept saying he wanted me to do it. So we went to Atlanta and Martinsville, just kind of not knowing what to expect. It was a welcome surprise to be fast and have good races.”

After placing 30th at Daytona, Chastain followed it up with a 10th at Atlanta Motor Speedway and seventh at Martinsville Speedway.

“To put a whole weekend together like we did, it definitely my most productive weekend I’ve ever had at Martinsville,” he said. “I’ve had race trucks before, but never was able to go through practice and then qualifying and then throughout the whole race and be in the position that I wanted to be in. I mean, even this one had it’s up and downs. It was definitely the best weekend that I’ve ever put together, and that goes back to Paul and Fish – the two full-time guys that work for the team. They brought a truck that allowed me to have a smooth weekend and have nothing go crazy wrong.”

While his focus remains on the XFINITY Series, he will once again race for Bolen Motorsports at Kansas Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. Chastain welcomed the break to focus solely on XFINITY and “the effort that takes,” while knowing it gave Bolen some time to put trucks together.

“He’s pumped up, and so am I,” Chastain said of Bolen. “We want to keep it rolling. This whole racing at this level of the sport goes in cycles in my opinion, and we’re on the up swing right now so it’s kind of a no brainer to keep it rolling as long as Jeff wants to and can do it; I’m here to be his driver. So we’re excited and wish it wasn’t so far away, but it’s given us time to put trucks together and bring quality trucks, but also bring on somebody on the sides and the hood of thing.”

Between XFINITY and Trucks, Chastain notes the biggest difference is the aero side due to the trucks having “such a big windshield and the bed being so long and tall with a big spoiler.”

“Going back and forth, it helped me a lot in the XFINITY car to be running the truck and the practices due to struggling in Atlanta over time, over the last four years,” he said. “So running more laps helped, and then running the XFINITY race and then got straight in the truck and the amount of security that I had in the truck compared to the car was night and day. It definitely made me realize when guys come down from Cup to XFINITY, it feels slower to them, and they can get more out of the racecar. That was the same for me from XFINITY to truck.”

So far this season, Chastain hasn’t had the XFINITY results warranted with only one top-20 finish in six races.

“Wish we would’ve been finishing better. It’s a struggle,” he said. “It’s a tough series with a lot of competition, lot of good teams, and we’ve been best in class a few times – as far as who were legitimately racing each weekend – and then other weekends we haven’t been as guys that shouldn’t beat us, beat us.”

With the series being off for a week, he stated they took some time to evaluate their program.

“We’re changing the stuff at the base level of how we set up our cars, and some of the approaches and some are thoughts and how we kind of interpret things working on the racecar,” he said. “So we’re changing some things to do better – that’s all we can do is try to be better than we were last week. Running every week, you get in a routine, and we kind of got to where we handle the same every week, so it’s time to curve some of that and work in the right direction, whether than stay on the same path.”

Chastain’s next opportunity will be Bristol Motor Speedway this coming weekend, where he has a track-best of 17th.

“I’ve had really good or really bad races there. It seems like we either run really well, broke and crash, or we just ran terrible and slow and finished it,” he said. “If we can have some of that speed and put a whole race together – it’s something that I’ve had to get better at. You can’t just go out and run as fast as you can every lap because at a place like that, it catches up to you and that’s what happened last fall. I was running along passing for 10th and got hooked into the wall and ruined our night and lost the car in the process.

“For me, if we can put together a good package mechanical grip wise and have a fast car, it’ll be up to me to put the whole weekend together on track. It’s easy to sit here and say that, but that’s really what it’s about for me – is just putting together a smooth weekend. I think we’ll have a fast car.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Trucks

Chastain to Run Daytona for Bolen

In addition to running the XFINITY Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway, Ross Chastain will also be racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Chastain will run the NextEra Energy Resources 250 behind the wheel of the No. 66 Rugged Cross Blinds Chevrolet for Bolen Motorsports. It marks the second time driver and team have worked together, following a 15th place finish at Talladega Superspeedway.

As noted, Chastain will be running the XFINITY Series event as part of a full-season schedule for JD Motorsports. Last year, he finished 16th in the XFINITY Series points standings, with 17 top 20 finishes with a best finish of 11th coming at Daytona in July. Chastain has made 45 career truck series starts, posting five top-fives and 12 top-10s.

Entering their second year of competition, Bolen Motorsports competed in 21 truck series events last season, scoring nine top-20 finishes with a career-best 11th at Gateway Motorsports Park with Jordan Anderson.

Featured for the first time as a sponsor, Rugged Cross Blinds manufactures custom hunting blinds, constructed from high quality materials that offer hunters 360 degree unobstructed views during their hunt.

“We are excited to bring one of the coolest hunting products that I have seen in some time to the NASCAR fans,” team owner Jeff Bolen said. “Having them on board along with the Realtree Xtra paint scheme is pretty cool.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Chastain to Return to JD Motorsports as Team Solidifies 2017 Lineup

With the 2017 season rapidly approaching, JD Motorsports is working on finalizing their plans for the NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule.

Ross Chastain will be a part of those plans as he will return to the team for the third consecutive season. The team is also working with Garrett Smithley, who finished a solid 18th in the final championship standings this past season.

“We’re 99 percent sure Garrett will be back with us,” said team owner Johnny Davis. “But we’re still working on funding and sponsorship issues to get everything lined up.”

JD Motorsports has a vacancy in their third entry as Ryan Preece has left the team to pursue other opportunities.

Chastain finished 16th in the XFINITY Series points standings last year, with 17 top 20 finishes with a best finish of 11th coming at Daytona in July. The Florida Watermelon Association will return as a primary sponsor for Chastain next season.

“Ross is a smart kid and an intelligent driver,” Davis said. “We’re lucky to have him back with us next year. He brings a lot to the team, and he works with our guys really well. We’re looking to step up our program with him.”

Smithley competed in 32 XFINITY Series races this past season with a best finish of 12th at Talladega in May.

“We’re working hard every day on getting things ready for next year,” Davis said. “It’s a complicated process to get everything in line to compete at the highest levels of stock car racing. Hopefully, we’ll be set long before it’s time to head to Daytona Beach in February for the season opener.

“Our goal is to always have our teams and our drivers in a position to show the best marketability for everybody. We take a lot of pride in our cars and our sponsors and how we showcase the drivers and the companies that work with us.”

 EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @JustinTuckerWeb

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Ross Chastain to Run Full XFINITY Schedule

@JDMotorsports01 is expected to announced that @RossChastain will run a full XFINITY series schedule in the team’s third full-time car, according to a report on Catchfence.com.

The 22-year-old Chastain made his Camping World Truck series debut in 2011, running in five races for Turn One Racing. The Florida native ran a full truck series schedule in 2012 with SS-Green Light Racing, but only ran partial schedules with Brad Keselowski Racing and Ricky Benton Racing in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Chastain has compiled five top-fives and 12 top-10s in his truck series career.

Chastain broke into the XFINITY Series last season during the May Charlotte race. He went on to run six more races with Viva Motorsports and Hattori Racing Enterprises, with his season-best tenth place finish coming in September at Kentucky.

He also ran two K&N East Series races for Hattori last season, finishing sixth and 17th at Columbus and Iowa respectively.

Chastain will join @LandonCassill and @HarrisonRhodes at JD Motorsports. Cassill returns to the team after finishing 12th in the XFINITY series last year. Rhodes, like Chastain, will run his first full XFINITY schedule, after running 13 races in the series over the past two seasons.

According to the report, Chastain will drive the No. 4 Camaro, which was vacated when @JEarnhardt1 left the team after last season. Sponsorship for the car will be announced at a later date.

John McHugh is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL JOHN AT john.mchugh@popularspeed.com