By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
NEWTON, Iowa — The NASCAR XFINITY Series typically delivers great story lines every time they roll in to the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway and Saturday’s US Cellular 250 was no exception. Ross Chastain earned a fourth-place result for JD Motorsports and tied the best finish of his XFINITY Series career in his 125th start.
Chastain qualified in the 18th position, right in line with his season average, and picked up a few positions during the 60 laps that comprised the first stage. But while pitting under the yellow at Lap 63, he was hit with a penalty for speeding entering the pits and restarted at the tail-end of the field in the 26th position.
Chastain had recovered to 13th at the end of Stage 2 and worked his way up inside the top-10 during the middle portion of the final stage. Chastain was running in the eighth position in the closing laps when the red flag came out for a hard crash. After a 17-minute delay, the race restarted and Chastain picked up four more positions as he avoided a last-lap wreck and brought the No. 4 KM Sports/Future Media Sales Chevrolet home with the career-best result.
“It was good all day. Our worst run was the first run of the race and then from there we threw a bunch of stuff at it and from there it took off. We only made minor adjustments at the end. It got so crazy and we lined up in the right spot and were able to roll with just the right amount of speed to clear guys when we needed to. It’s a product of a good race car though,” Chastain told Motorsports Tribune.
Far from the biggest or heavily-funded teams in the series, Chastain continues to deliver for JD Motorsports against the likes of powerhouse teams Joe Gibbs Racing, JR Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing.
The fourth-place result tied the best finish of Chastain’s XFINITY career, which came last season at Iowa. It was the second top-five finish of his career and the fifth top-10 of the 2018 season. But the final result for the 25-year-old driver wasn’t his main concern.
“I just want to run good. I just want to be competitive. I don’t care where and I don’t care how. I just want to do a good job for my guys and I just want to be competitive. That’s my only goal in all of this.
“It’s just good race cars. When they get them right, they go fast.”
Chastain credited part of the improvement to the extra track time he’s had in 2018, making 18 starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with Premium Motorsports.
“Running as many races as I can this year has helped for those late-race restarts. It probably hurts sometimes when I try to overdrive and get too much, I’ve been crashing quite a bit. We got fortunate at the end but honestly though we were a top-10 car which was really cool.”
A few of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 crew members came up to congratulate Chastain during the interview, telling the driver he was a “restarting fool.”
“The 42 guys, we work as close with them as anybody. They help us a ton. They were right there behind us and it was really cool to beat them and run with them.”
And Chastain, always a joking personality, had a great answer for what he was thinking about during the red flag while sitting solidly inside the top-10.
“I had to pee, to be honest,” he said with a grin.
“I didn’t really think about much during that red flag to be honest. I knew we would have to get going in that restart after the red flag. It all worked out.”