By: Ashley McCubbin
There are some drivers who come into the sport and make it to the top fairly quickly. There are others who it takes a lot of time and hardwork to make everything together. Ross Chastain is one of the lather.
Over the past 10 years, Chastain has been driving a variety of equipment across NASCAR’s three premiere series, with hopes of landing a top notch ride in the NASCAR Cup Series one day. While running what some would call sub-par equipment, he was able to find ways through sheer determination to score top-10 finishes, out-performing others who driven the same cars.
Then there was 2018, where he caught his big break in getting hired by Chip Ganassi for a partial NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule. He made the most of it, securing the victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It would translate to a full-time ride being discussed, but the sponsor falling through at the beginning 0f 2019 laid the plan to rest.
After a couple more seasons proving himself, including a couple trips to victory lane in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Chastain returns to Chip Ganassi Racing – now ready for full-time in the Cup Series.
Though as he gets ready for the next chapter of his career, he knows he can still improve everything about himself as a driver, as evident by failing to reach victory lane in Xfinity Series competition in 2020 with Kaulig Racing.
“There is so much (laughs),” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “I mean, we all have better laps or better days than others, whether its in normal life or around the race track and making those bad days better and those good days great and keeping the mistakes down and staying like calm and cool. That’s the biggest thing. I won’t know until I get in the car, but really try to just be a better person inside the car and have a better outlook and not worry as much whenever something doesn’t go how I think it should. Controlling what I can control is the biggest thing and the rest of it is racing.
“We don’t call it winning. We call it racing. That’s what I can go better.”
Chastain knows, though, if he wants to continue to have a career in Cup, he will be required to win some races as his teammate Kurt Busch did last season. After all, he says there is no alternative or plan B, other than returning back to the family farm full-time.
When he has not been behind the wheel, Chastain has been heavily involved in the family’s watermelon farm, hence where his signature celebration method came from – smashing a watermelon when he reaches victory lane.
“I love that I have something that actually means so much to me and my family,” he commented. “To sit down and go home after we won that first race in Las Vegas and talk to my Grandad and we were just sitting there eating watermelon at his house and he’s just like, you just showed so many more people watermelons. And we believe that’ll help more people buy more watermelons. A rising tide raises all ships. And although they might not be buying one of our watermelons, it’s something that our family lives on and is our livelihood.”
Chastain went on to say it’s good for the sport in general, in having something for people to laugh at and smile about.
“No doubt about it, we are a traveling circus, right? It seems kind of funny to say it out loud but that’s just kind of how I view it in a laughing, joking manner,” he added. “We come, we set-up our tent, we perform our show, we compete, we pack it up, and we go to the next town. Why not embrace it and everybody has their thing?”
Chastain is hoping to crash a bunch of watermelons over the season – as that means success is coming his way in waves. Though as each one is broken, it will also be a reminder of how far he has come in the past five, 10 years. Looking back, he says he would tell himself to believe it was going to work out more.
“I was doing it. I did believe but I just couldn’t see it,” he said. “I couldn’t see the end goal. I knew what I wanted to do. I knew what we were talking about and what we were trying to prepare to do but yeah. I would probably even back up farther than that and when I first got to NASCAR, I was so naive in the Truck Series. People were telling me there was a way, but I just knew the real facts of it and I didn’t know if it would actually happen.”