Column By: HOLLY CAIN / NASCAR – DAYTONA BEACH, FL – Ross Chastain has made a name for himself by consistently exceeding expectations – winning NASCAR races and challenging for the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship even though he began the season with uncertainty about his future.
The hard work and determination has paid off.
On Tuesday, the Kaulig Racing organization formally announced Chastain will turn what’s been a part-time gig with the team into a fulltime position piloting the No. 10 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2020 – teaming up with team’s current fulltime driver Justin Haley. It’s exactly the kind of big break the 26-year old Floridian has been working toward.
“Two of the most important things in my life are agriculture and racing,” Chastain said. “Matt (Kaulig), Chris (Rice) and all of Kaulig Racing gave me the opportunity to race this year when I really wasn’t sure I would ever get another winning opportunity in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and we won,” Chastain said of the team’s owner (Kaulig) and president (Rice).
“Now, next year, we get to try to win more races and also compete for the championship.”
In announcing the news Chastain was exceedingly grateful for the chance to capitalize on a successful part-time effort. He’s already earned a victory for the team in the July Xfinity race at Daytona International Speedway driving the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet.
Chastain was on a national media teleconference Tuesday – his first – to reveal his big career news and joked “this is high level stuff here.” He acknowledged he had discussions with multiple teams about a fulltime job, but said the Kaulig opportunity is what felt right.
“There’s been some decisions in my career a lot of people may have questioned, but at the end of the day I can sleep at night knowing I made the final decision,” Chastain said. “This was right for me.”
Chastain has competed in all three of NASCAR’s national series this year. He’s bookended 30 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts this year with a season best 10th place in the season-opening Daytona 500 and a 12th place at Talladega, Ala. just this Monday.
He has the victory with Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series and is a three-time winner in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series where’s contending for his first championship.
“I will race anything I can get my hands on,” he said, confirming he would remain open to competing in more than one series.
Being able to both secure the job at Kaulig and announce it before the season’s finished is a big deal for Chastain, who had originally been hired to drive in the Xfinity Series for Chip Ganassi Racing only to have the sponsorship fall through before the season’s first green flag.
Since then he’s declared himself championship eligible in the truck series and many consider him a favorite to earn the title. And in between those races he will make starts at Kansas Speedway this weekend in the Xfinity Series and again at Texas Motor Speedway in November.
“Getting up and fighting every day is what kept me going 10 months ago,” Chastain said, adding, “The people that stuck with me back then, which was a big group, they told me it would be okay and it was.”