The more laps, the better.
Or at least that‘s Ross Chastain‘s mindset. He ran 77 races last season across NASCAR‘s top three series. Without drop-off, too. Chastain finished second in the final standings of the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, where he competed full time for points.
“It‘s weird,” Chastain said at the NASCAR Awards in Charlotte, North Carolina. “It‘s just the adrenaline of thinking you‘re going to go and compete in every national NASCAR race that weekend. Plus, I think it helps my driving. I‘m not naturally Kyle Busch (the Cup Series‘ 2019 champion). I‘m not, and I accepted that probably before I ever raced at 12 years old.”
Chastain made his NASCAR debut in 2011 and has since notched 311 starts overall. The 77 this past season topped the 74 mark in 2018 and broke down into all 23 events in the Gander Truck Series, 19 in the Xfinity Series and 35 in the Cup Series. He piloted the Nos. 38, 44 and 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolets full time in the Gander Truck Series, moved among the Nos. 10 and 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolets and the No. 4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series and then bounced between the Nos. 15 and 27 Premium Motorsports Chevrolets in the Cup Series.
Through it all, Chastain has two wins in the Xfinity Series — the first was at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2018 and then Daytona International Speedway in 2019 — and three in the Gander Truck Series — all in 2019 at Kansas Speedway, World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway and Pocono Raceway. He has one top 10 in the Cup Series.
“If I‘m going to make it in this sport, I‘m putting in the work now to hopefully make that next step in a couple of years,” Chastain said.
The first step was made back in October when Chastain and Kaulig Racing announced the 27-year-old will race for the Xfinity Series championship full time in 2020 with the No. 10 entry. As of the banquet in November, a crew chief had not been officially decided on.
Chastain still plans to run in the Gander Truck and Cup Series next season, in as many events as he possibly can and is allowed.
“We‘re having those conversations right now,” Chastain said. “But I tell every team when I first meet them, get to know them and before I ever drive for them, OK, you‘re going to have some hard days to deal with me. Here‘s what I think it will be, and then you tell me ahead of time what you think it‘ll be. And then we‘ll go through that. Because I don‘t want any surprises. … Different teams want me to run less and some teams want me to run more. It depends on their personal opinion.”
The argument is whether Chastain should focus solely on one circuit. He doesn‘t think so and needs teams that understand even if they don’t fully agree. His goal is to improve, and he believes this is the way.
Because, ideally, he‘d eventually like to earn a competitive full-time ride in the Cup Series.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Chastain said. “I‘ve probably already out-kicked my coverage on my career.”