RPW Exclusive: Chastain’s Career May Be Hanging In The Balance

Column By: SHANE CARLSON / RPW – CONCORD, NC – Following Chip Ganassi Racing’s Xfinity Series program closure, the budding career of Ross Chastain has come to a sudden halt.

Chastain was tapped to pilot the No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet Camaro for the 2019 campaign after a successful stretch of races where he was behind the wheel of the No. 42 last season. In three races in which he drove the No. 42, Chastain scored one win, the first of his five-year Xfinity Series career which occurred at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Two weeks prior to his win, he nearly won at Darlington until he got into a dustup with Kevin Harvick which relegated him to a 25th-place finish. He also was the runner-up at Richmond Raceway after qualifying third.

Following the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s raid of the home of DC Solar CEO Jeff Carpoff in Martinez, California as well as DC Solar’s headquarters in Benicia, California last month about an ongoing tax dispute, DC Solar will not be able to sponsor the team and has crippled Chip Ganassi Racing Xfinity budget, forcing the team to shut down.

“Due to a lack of sponsorship funding we will cease operation of the No. 42 Xfinity team in 2019,” Ganassi said in a prepared statement. “This was a difficult decision for me to make and it comes with much anguish as this is a championship-caliber team having won six races and finished second in the owners championship and more importantly because it affects a number of good people’s livelihoods. Running a car without proper funding is difficult to do.”

DC Solar has been a sponsor of Chip Ganassi Racing in the Cup and Xfinity Series, and last month prior to the investigation, it was announced they would be the primary sponsor for Chastain in conjunction with his full-time effort with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Without the sponsorship from DC Solar for 2019 like the team had banked on, the Chip Ganassi Racing was forced to shut down its Xfinity Series program but Chastain is still under contract with CGR.

The news leaves Chastain in limbo; after a number of years of running for underfunded teams and earning strong results, Chastain finds himself with no definite plans for the 2019 season which opens in Daytona in less than two months.

The world of social media has expressed support of Chastain and his blue collar, grind-it-out work mentality but it has proven tough to put together a race team in such a tight window.

He has raced for JD Motorsports the past number of years and gotten the most out of his small budget team’s cars but had proven himself to be capable of being one of the series’ next up-and-coming stars and he flashed his talent behind the wheel in his three-race stint with Chip Ganassi Racing.

It’s possible he could resume his old role at JD Motorsports as the drivers for the No. 01 and the No. 15 has not been officially announced, but it would be a bitter pill to swallow even though his relationship with his old team is good and he is appreciative of them supporting him throughout the early stages of his NASCAR career.

There aren’t that many open premier landing spots for Chastain in the Xfinity Series. Richard Childress Racing has said they don’t have plans to run the No. 3 full-time, and the No. 21 entry will be a full-time combined driver effort.

Perhaps something will open up for Chastain but the bottom line is there’s not much time to get prepared for the 2019 season, and even if he does land something, he’s behind every team in getting used to the equipment, personnel and the organization as a whole.