Xfinity driver Ross Chastain will move to the Cup Series full-time next season driving the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing, the team announced Monday morning.
“We believe that Ross will give our team the opportunity to be competitive each week and our sponsors someone to build a program around,” a statement from team owner Chip Ganassi said. “Additionally, his racing background has him well-suited to make the move to the Cup Series.”
Chastain will replace Matt Kenseth in the driver’s seat after Kenseth replaced Kyle Larson, who was released by the team and sponsors in April after he used a racial slur during an iRacing event. Larson remains indefinitely suspended and has not yet requested reinstatement, according to NASCAR.
Chastain, 27, has been a development driver for CGR since 2018 and was scheduled to run a full-time Xfinity car for the team last season, but the car’s DC Solar sponsor was shutdown by the FBI and its CEO charged with conspiracy to commit fraud before the season started. CGR was unable to field to the car and Chastain instead ran events in all three national NASCAR Series (Cup, Trucks and Xfinity) with various teams. He competed for the Truck Series championship and finished second in the series in 2019.
The driver, also known as the “Melon Man” for his background in watermelon farming and agriculture in southern Florida, competes for Kaulig Racing full-time in the Xfinity Series. He has maintained a relationship with Ganassi, driving the No. 77 Cup car at the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 500 this year in a partnership between CGR and Spire Motorsports.
“I can’t thank Chip enough for this opportunity,” Chastain said in a statement. “The faith he and the organization showed me back in 2018 was a real turning point in my career.”
Chastain has earned 13 top-five finishes in the Xfinity Series and 23 top-10s so far this year. He will join veteran Cup Series driver Kurt Busch at CGR next season. Busch drives the No. 1 Chevrolet and remains in playoff contention in 2020, advancing to the Round of 12 after the latest race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“Racing in the Cup Series with a serious contender has always been my goal,” Chastain’s statement said. “And I’m looking forward to joining what is a very strong team. I know I have my work cut out for me, but I’m ready to get to work and help bring more success to the organization.”
Bubba Wallace, who announced his departure from his Richard Petty Motorsports team, was also reportedly in consideration for the No. 42 position and was offered the ride this summer, but talks slowed following the offer.
Wallace remains a free agent, but is rumored to be linked to a new Toyota-backed team run by Denny Hamlin. Hamlin declined to comment on his potential ownership Saturday, but pieces continue to fall into place for the 2021 Cup season.