Ross Chastain’s leap of faith at Chip Ganassi Racing worked out.
Chastain will drive the team’s No. 42 car full-time in the Xfinity Series in 2019. Chastain, who has driven for Johnny Davis Motorsports, drove three races for CGR in 2018. He qualified on the pole in his first race with the team and won at Las Vegas in his second to create the biggest feel-good story of the NASCAR season.
“Until [sponsor] DC Solar and [owner Chip Ganassi] gave me a shot in Darlington, nobody knew who I was,” Chastain said in a statement. “I want to remain humble. I enjoy being the underdog. Excited or thrilled doesn’t begin to capture how I feel about joining CGR full time. I’m eager to take full advantage of the opportunity in front of me.”
CGR was Chastain’s first chance in good equipment
Chastain made his NASCAR debut in 2011 but the shot with CGR was the first time Chastain had gotten an opportunity in top-tier equipment. He made the most of it and even ticked off Kevin Harvick while the two made contact while racing for the lead at Darlington in Chastain’s first start with the team.
He admitted after Las Vegas that he wasn’t getting paid during his three-race stint with the team. He said he was betting that he could prove himself in top equipment by jumping at the chance to race the No. 42 car for free. He finished 25th at Darlington after the contact with Harvick and finished second at Richmond in addition to the Vegas win.
Chastain, 25, got the opportunity because John Hunter Nemechek didn’t have sponsorship for those three races. Nemechek, who has split the No. 42 with Kyle Larson and Chastain this season in NASCAR’s second-tier series, got his first Xfinity Series win at Kansas in October.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.