By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
Despite losing the opportunity of a lifetime, NASCAR veteran Ross Chastain will still be competing in all three of NASCAR’s National Series.
Chastain will have a partial schedule in the No. 45 Paul Jr. Designs TruNorth Chevrolet Silverado for Niece Motorsports in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Reid Wilson will split time in the No. 45 Truck with the Alva, FL native. Chastain will drive the truck at Daytona International Speedway.
Chastain has 59 starts in the Truck Series, finishing runner-up twice. In total, he has five top-five and 15 top-10 finishes, along with two pole positions. In Chastain’s only full-time season, he finished 17th in the final points standings.
Last season, Chastain made three starts for the Al Niece-owned team. He impressed in the second-year organization, finishing 12th at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“My first three races with Niece Motorsports, my first race at Bristol, I knew right then that I wanted to do more,” Chastain said. “I knew that this was a place that I could do a lot with. I knew Cody Efaw from a couple seasons ago in passing, and they took me in, but we didn’t work together until a year and a half later. I knew with the foundation that he and Al had laid with the 45 truck, that it was something I wanted to be a part of.”
Since making his debut in 2011, Chastain has attempted at least one Truck race every season. Even when he was competing full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, he made sporadic appearances in the Truck Series. In 2018, Chastain made seven Truck starts, and earned the first-ever top-10 finish for Jay Robinson’s Premium Motorsports.
For Chastain, the reason to jump down to compete in the Truck Series is an easy one,
“People like Al Niece. People that believe in me. He wants to race, has a race team, a business in Texas that is busier than it has ever been, and growing, and he still finds time to come to Statesville where the shop is. The trucks are good, they’re a part of GMS. They’re on campus, get the same attention.”
Balancing competing in all three of NASCAR’s National Series is nothing new for Chastain. In 2018, he competed in 74 races, 34 in Cup, the full 33-race schedule in Xfinity, and seven in Trucks. Even with the extra work load, Chastain made the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, and came within a handful of points to advancing to the second round.
Chastain had been scheduled to compete full-time in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Xfinity Series effort, until a raid by the FBI on DC Solar took place. Shortly thereafter, the team was forced to close due to lack of sponsorship.
Chastain was optimistic, focusing on just getting back behind the wheel,
“I’m ready to get racing in the racecars and drive my butt off. I’m still working on everything, feel pretty good about everything with Jay and Premium with the No. 15 car. Obviously, we know that it’s business and we know what it’s all about, the money side. We have to raise more money on that charter car to run how we want to run and do the deal to keep me in the seat.”
Although he will be running full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Chastain will not be earning points in the series. Instead, he has elected to earn points in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. NASCAR’s rules bars Cup drivers from competing in the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash races, as well as the Playoff races in both the Xfinity and Truck Series.
“The way I understand it is that if you’re not 25th in driver points in Cup, there’s no money for the team from the driver fund,” Chastain explained. “So, if you’re 26th on back, it doesn’t matter. Also, I can run all of the Xfinity and Truck races at the end of the year. With Cup points, you can’t run those races at the end of the year.”