Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Consistent Pace for Ross Chastain Leads to His Second Top 10 at Fontana

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

Quiet consistency often times goes unnoticed in NASCAR, but for the second time this season, JD Motorsports driver Ross Chastain finished in the top-10, already matching his total from 2017. Chastain brought his No. 4 Daley Technology Systems Chevrolet home in 10th during Saturday’s Roseanne 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

Chastain’s performance marked his ninth-career NASCAR Xfinity Series top-10 and only the fifth time he’s accomplished this feat outside of Daytona International Speedway, where he finished ninth last month.

Chastain showed pace during qualifying Saturday morning, good enough to start 13th in the race. Once the green flag dropped in the 150-lap contest, Chastain made tons of noise when he cracked the top-10 early in the going and stayed there.

The Alva, Florida native caught the eye of Fox commentator Larry McReynolds and guest commentator Brad Keselowski after racing hard for track position with the likes of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ryan Preece and JR Motorsports’ Elliott Sadler.

Chastain crossed the line in ninth at the end of stage one and scored two stage points. On their first pit stops, the No. 4 pit crew made some tuning changes on the front and got Chastain out in eighth to kickoff stage two, where he settled for 12th.

During the final stage, Chastain had to work his way back inside the top-10 after having steady pace in the opening two stages, running in the top-15 for most the stage, and ran no worse than 18th.

A Lap 138 caution by Austin Cindric bunched up the field one last time. Chastain pitted from the 13th position, but lost two positions exiting pit road. One of the two spots he lost was a result of Ryan Sieg, who pitted for fuel and came out with the race lead.

On the final restart on the 142nd lap, drivers with fresh tires eviscerated Sieg’s older tires, as eventual race winner Joey Logano made quick business and Chastain eventually passed Sieg to gain valuable track position.

On the last green flag run, Chastain’s quiet consistency paid off and finally cracked the top-10, where he held off Spencer Gallagher to bring home the Johnny Davis’ owned team its 32nd top-10 in history.

After five races, Chastain’s average finish is 14.4, his best start of his Xfinity Series career after finishing inside the top-20 in each race. Chastain’s previous best to start the season was 19th in his rookie season in 2015.

Saturday’s performance also kept Chastiain sitting 13th in the Xfinity Series standings, four markers behind 14th-place finisher Kaz Grala, who tangled with Brandon Jones coming to the checkered flag, to be in position for a playoff berth in September.

Chastain’s eyes are now on his No. 15 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet, where he’ll roll off in 36th for tomorrow’s Auto Club 400. It’ll be Chastain’s fourth straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race this season and will look to finish inside the top-30 in as many races.

The Xfinity Series takes a two-week break and will return in action at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas on April 7. Chastain finished 19th on his last trip at the “Lone Star State” last November.

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media and a three-time National Motorsports Press Association award winner in photography. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography with ambitions of having his work recognized.