By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
Only one driver and team have finished every NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race inside the top-10 this season, Ross Chastain and Niece Motorsports.
Chastain kept that streak alive in the TruNorth Global 250 at Martinsville Speedway with a fourth-place finish in the No. 45 TruNorth / Paul Jr Designs Chevrolet Silverado. In the process, the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular earned his first stage win in the Truck Series and battled eventual race winner Kyle Busch.
The race ultimately came down to a three-lap sprint to the finish. Chastain restarted fourth, boxed in on the outside lane. Somehow, the 26-year-old forced his way in line. Two laps later, the race ended under caution after Chastain’s teammate spun.
“I’ll be happy in about an hour,” Chastain explained. “When you have a shot to win and you don’t get it done, it stings. We can hang our hats high. Niece Motorsports, we’re just trying to build this team. This is the best truck team that I’ve ever driven for by far. Couldn’t be more proud to be here and race as many times as I can with them this year.”
To earn the first stage win for both himself and Niece Motorsports, Chastain moved Stewart Friesen, the new points leader, out of the lead on the backstretch. He held onto the lead until lap 185 when Busch secured the top spot for good. Chastain fell backward, as his truck became tight.
“That was a huge step forward for us,” Chastain admitted. “It’s nice to be aggravated with fourth, but no. Nobody told me to come run this truck this year, but I saw a lot of potential with Al Niece, Cody Efaw, and the whole TruNorth team. Glad I did and stuck to my gut.
“Probably went too hard there to get that stage win. That was a big deal, I wanted to get that. I just ran out of turn there at the end, just got too tight. Definitely a lot to build on for sure. We’ve got a clean race truck, and a brand-new truck that we’re bringing to Texas next week. Honestly, the last month I’ve been looking forward to Texas more than here. This is a good sign of things to come.”
The duo had battled for multiple laps for control of the race. While doing so, Chastain led 53 laps, the most in a single race for the journeyman driver since ISM Raceway in 2013 with Brad Keselowski Racing.
The fourth-place finish is the seventh career top-five and 19th top-10 finish for Chastain in the Truck Series. Despite not competing for Truck Series points, he is the only driver to have a top-10 finish in every race this season.