By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
The underdog story of Ross Chastain and Niece Motorsports continues as they look to rebound at the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
Just one week after Chastain became the first driver in the history of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series to be disqualified from a race win, his Niece Motorsports team has signed a new sponsor, CarShield.
“We are thrilled to have CarShield come on board this weekend at Gateway,” said team owner Al Niece. “Ross and this team are fired up and looking to visit Victory Lane again.”
Niece won at Kansas Speedway earlier this year with Chastain. However, he was earning NASCAR Xfinity Series points at the time and was ineligible for the benefits for the Truck Series playoffs.
CarShield first sponsored Chastain in the Xfinity Series in 2016. The two-race partnership had a best finish of 13th at Kansas. CarShield is also the entitlement sponsor of Saturday night’s race, the CarShield 200.
“The opportunity to get on board with Ross and Niece Motorsports for the CarShield 200 was just too good to pass up,” said CarShield co-founder Nick Hamilton. “CarShield’s relationship with Ross dates back to 2016 and we’re thrilled to partner with Niece Motorsports this weekend.”
“As the entitlement sponsor of the race, it makes sense to expand the program to include a high-profile, on-track element. Ross is a proven winner and we’re happy to back him in the ‘Melon Man Challenge’ as he looks to pick up another win this weekend and work his way inside the top 20 in points.”
The intensity of the ‘Melon Man Challenge,’ a phrase coined by NASCAR on FOX’s Alan Cavanna, has increased for Chastain. With six races left before the playoffs, he sits 35th in the championship points standings.
Chastain needs a victory and to be in the top-20 in points by the completion of the Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway in August. He is currently 69-points behind 20th-place Josh Reaume. Chastain is 293-points behind the cutoff, currently held by Harrison Burton.
“I’m going to the racetrack with the best team in the business so I’m confident that we can win another race and work ourselves inside the top 20 over the next six races,” explained Chastain. “I’m proud that Nick, Travis, Rick and the CarShield team have jumped in with both feet this weekend. We’re expecting to run up front, look to win another race, and put what happened at Iowa Speedway behind us.”
While the CarShield 200 marks Chastain’s 70th career Truck Series start, it will be his first full-race at the 1.250-mile track. The Alva FL native finished 29thin last season’s race after completing 43 laps.