In the midst of a career-best NASCAR XFINITY Series season, Ross Chastain recently revealed that he will be back with JD Motorsports in 2018.
Chastain took some time to speak with Popular Speed’s Ashley McCubbin about the announcement, as well as this year.
POPULAR SPEED: How would you characterize your season so far?
ROSS CHASTAIN: Everything has been going along good. I’m at the shop now. We had a good weekend at Dover, and we definitely (have) had more speed this year than the previous two, so that’s what you hope for. We haven’t had some of the real great finishes just due to circumstances, but I’ll take faster cars all year instead of just a few lucky fortunate finishes. So it’s been good.
PS: What track are most looking forward to getting to?
RC: I really enjoy Homestead. It’s close to home, and just the way the track is. It’s worn out, you can run all over it – if it’s banked, you can run on it. So that’s really nice to be able to do that, and run against the wall. I’m still trying to learn that and master that; I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but getting there so probably, besides Dover, which we just got done there with a really solid weekend across the board.
PS: We’ve gone through now the first year with stage racing. What are your thoughts in how that has played out?
RC: I haven’t seen much difference. It’s taken a little bit of the strategy out to do something crazy, so you’re kind of locked in and makes being fast and staying on the lead lap and same strategy as the leaders even more important. Fortunately, we’ve been there most of the time, unless we’re a little off, but that just comes with the territory of trying to keep up. But I haven’t seen much changed.
PS: You recently announced that you will be back with JD Motorsports for 2018.
RC: I’m excited. It’s the earliest that I’ve announced, or definitely known. Me and Johnny (Davis) shake hands each year, and you know, we decide we want to do it. It just all made sense to keep building what we’ve built for three years now. I fit in well here with everybody down here with Johnny’s family, and the guys that we have working here, and they fit in with my family and what we stand for.
I’ve been other places where it was just a business, just a racecar, and that was the only reason you got together. Johnny and I get together for other reasons, too, personal time, just to spend time together, so it works out and we get to go racing as a byproduct. We get along because our families are very similar and how we were brought up. Obviously he was brought up in a different time, but it’s crazy how similar we are. Sometimes, it’s a little creepy to be honest, but it’s good as it makes it so we understand each other.
PS: Continuing to build on the success, where do you feel you and the team need to improve upon?
RC: Our mile and a half stuff has been solid, but to take that next step and run with the next group of cars is going to take speed. We have our cars driving well, we just can’t pace with them. We’re usually handling better and I’m on the gas, but it’s just not making lap time. So trying to get every little detail of these racecars worked out – all the aero stuff and maxing everything out to NASCAR’s rules and pushing the grey areas without getting into trouble. We don’t get fines here at JD Motorsports; we don’t cheat deliberately. That’s not the case with all the teams.
So it’s just a matter of us pushing the limits, but doing it in a way where we understand what we’re doing. You can’t just look at someone else’s car and say they’re doing this or that, and copy them. We need to come up with it on our own and quantify it in that we know what it’s going to do and science it out, and that makes it difficult when we’re not going to the wind tunnel or on the set-up post. We’re just putting racecars together and going racing, and our practice sessions are our test sessions. I’m on track on NASCAR sanctioned time, which is two hours of practice, couple rounds of qualifying, and then our 200 or 300 mile races.
That’s the cards we’re dealt, and we understand that down here. We do more with it than anybody else is or has done, inside or outside of this building. I’m definitely proud of where we have taken the team to the next level, and I feel we’re trying to take the next step. We’re never happy as racers.
Ross Chastain will hope to score his third top-five of 2017 in this Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway.
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