Ross Chastain was pitched to a doubtful Chip Ganassi; With the limited opportunity, the short track racer impressed the NASCAR team owner
Jeff Carpoff met Ross Chastain while he was working on a bus in-between practice sessions
Chip Ganassi is all about winning. So, typically when a sponsor pitches a short track racer to the NASCAR team owner, he shrugs it off.
But, DC Solar talked Ganassi into giving Chastain a shot in a handful of one-off races. Chastain drove it to the front, banged wheels with Kevin Harvick and impressed the team owner.
“We’re putting him in the car because we think he can win races and compete for championships,” NASCAR team owner Chip Ganassi stated from the ISM Raceway media center.
Related: Kevin Harvick vs Ross Chastain at Darlington Raceway (Video)
“I want to thank Jeff [Carpoff] for pushing me to hire him. I probably could not of pointed Ross out of all women and him. Before Jeff pushed me into trying this guy out, I repeatedly told Jeff that he didn’t know what he was talking about and to leave the drivers to me.”
“But, he kept pushing me. And I couldn’t be happier. Ross is the kind of guy every roots for. And he’s capable of winning. I like winners.”
Jeff Carpoff met Ross Chastain in between practice rounds at the race track. Chastain was working on a bus.
“I thought, ‘Man, this guy really wants to be here.’ So I started watching closely at the performance of what Ross is doing on the track. I seen week after week that he was out performing the car that he was driving,” Carpoff explained.
Later in the season, Ross Chastain was on his way to making the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs based on points.
“I thought, that’s pretty spectacular given the circumstances that was wrapped around him. Before I jump in with both feet, I want to see what he’s capable of doing in the #42 car.”
Chastain grabbed the wheel of the Chip Ganassi Racing for a three-race deal. It was a proving grounds. Chastain never left the front of the field. He won a race, finished 2nd in another and wrecked while racing for the lead at Darlington Raceway.
He led more laps in that race at Darlington than the previous three seasons.
“I’m trying not to throw up honestly,” Ross Chastain said as he sat in on the announcement.
“I didn’t think anything like this would come about. Definitely not this soon. I did see movement in the sport and thought there was somehow I could fit in somewhere, for a long time.”
“The first time I met Jeff, I could tell he was going to make something happen. When they said the spot was opening in the #42, I did throw up. I was so nervous for the first race.”
“I was kinda glass half empty in thinking about all the mistakes I made in the car. But, they saw the good stuff.”
NASCAR sponsors selecting the driver
Ross Chastain was pitched to Chip Ganassi by DC Solar. Ganassi threw him a bone and decided to put him in the car for just a few years. Ross Chastain performed and sold himself to Ganassi.
How often do sponsors pick the drivers?
“When it clicked for me was… Ok, he qualified at Darlington pretty well, that’s not impossible. Then, to win the first stage. And not only that but I think he fell to 2nd or 3rd and then came back to the lead again.”
“That kinda got me saying, ‘Wow, I gotta start paying attention here.’ The incident he got in with another driver there in the final stage… Obviously, it opened my eyes.”
“I called Jeff. I said, ‘W-T-F, what was I thinking? Where did you find this guy? What was I thinking?’ ”
The #42 Xfinity car is a ride that Chip Ganassi regularly places his NASCAR Cup Series drivers in when they run one-off races. Does CGR plan to add another Xfinity ride for that?
“I’d like to run John Hunter in a second car. We’ve got lots of things to do yet, with him.”
John Hunter Nemechek thought we was the likely candidate for the #42 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He was surprised when it was announced that Chastain got the #42 ride. But, it appears Nemechek might still have a shot with CGR.
Ross Chastain to Chip Ganassi Racing in 2019