By David Morgan, Associate Editor
FORT WORTH, Texas – Earlier this week, Ross Chastain announced that he would be shifting his points focus from the NASCAR Xfinity Series to the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series beginning with Friday night’s SpeedyCash.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Immediately upon the news breaking, social media was abuzz with memes and jokes about the rest of his fellow Truck Series counterparts shaking in fear about Chastain joining the series for the remainder of the season and running for the championship.
When on-track activity began Thursday at Texas, Chastain’s presence was the talk of the garage area, but the drivers were anything but scared of the Niece Motorsports driver joining the fray halfway through the season.
“I say bring it on,” said Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Harrison Burton. “I came here to race and beat those guys. I saw a lot of things on Twitter about all the Truck drivers being super nervous and all that. I don’t feel that way. I feel good.
“People have an opinion about Ross that he’s a really, really good driver and that’s a good opinion because he’s hard to beat and a competitive driver. I’m excited about that. I love racing those guys and battling with Sauter and Crafton and people like that. I say bring ‘em on because that’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to race and beat those guys.”
Although none of his first eight starts of the Truck Series season have counted towards the championship, Chastain has been a force to be reckoned with as he has yet to finish outside the top-10 in any of them, along with three top-five finishes and a win at Kansas Speedway.
Despite starting from ground zero this weekend at Texas, Chastain noted he and the team are up for the challenge of winning a race and making it into the top-20 in points before the Playoffs start in mid-August at Bristol, giving him just eight races to accomplish the task.
“My Niece Motorsports team has been very fast all year, and we have a tall order ahead of us to get both in the top 20 in points and win a race before the playoffs start. But that’s a mountain we’re willing to climb,” said Chastain.
Chastain put his Chevrolet in the top-10 during the first of Thursday’s three Truck practices at Texas and followed it up with a 17th place and 14th place run in the two final practice sessions of the day. In the first Texas race earlier this year, Chastain finished seventh in a Niece Motorsports entry.
With practice complete, Chastain will take to the track for qualifying at 5:35 pm Eastern Friday afternoon before a 9:00 pm Eastern green flag on FOX Sports 1.