Ross Chastain to drive No. 1 for NASCAR’S Trackhouse Racing

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Trackhouse Racing has signed Ross Chastain as its second Cup Series driver in a multiyear deal announced Tuesday.

The 28-year-old Chastain currently drives the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing. Trackhouse purchased the Ganassi operation in late June in a deal that takes effect at the end of this season and includes both of Ganassi’s Cup Series charters.

“It was a great choice for our company,” Trackhouse Racing founder Justin Marks said on a Zoom call. “We’ve got somebody that can be a part of this company for a long time. I’m excited to offer Ross what I think is probably his first multi-year contract in his NASCAR career, and it’s a way for us to show that we’re committed to him. We’re building this team around him, and I’m excited for the future.”

Marks said Chastain will join the No. 99 Chevrolet driven by Daniel Suárez when Trackhouse expands to a two-car team next season.

“It’s really indescribable what that means,” Chastain said. “It means the world. From my side, when the acquisition happened, I told Justin, I just texted him, and said, ‘I want this.’ It was just simple. I didn’t ask anybody. I didn’t confer with anybody. Fundamentally, down at the core of it, I knew that this was where I wanted to be.”

The announcement leaves former Cup champion Kurt Busch, currently the driver of Ganassi’s No. 1, in the hunt for a new ride. Busch, 42, has 33 career wins, including the 2017 Daytona 500, and won the Cup Series title in 2004. He won at Atlanta last month to secure a spot in the playoffs for the ninth straight time and indicated afterward he hoped to keep driving next year.

In his brief career of 101 races, Chastain drove for Premium Motorsports, Spire Motorsports, and Roush Fenway Racing before signing with Ganassi this season. In 22 Cup races this year, Chastain has two top-five finishes, including a runner-up finish at Nashville Superspeedway, and seven top 10s.

Marks has had a decade-long relationship with Chastain and said he’s been impressed.

“Ross is a young, aggressive driver that we believe has the talent to win races at the Cup Series level,” Marks said. “We think his personality and work ethic will fit perfectly with Daniel as we build our organization for the 2022 season and beyond.”

Before his Cup Series career, Chastain had two career victories in the Xfinity Series and four wins in the Camping World Truck series.

Chastain, a native of Alva, Florida, earned the nickname “Melon Man” for his family’s endeavors in the watermelon farming business for eight generations, and he still works on the family’s land when his schedule permits.,

Suárez will be doing double duty this weekend when the Cup series stops at Watkins Glen International’s speedy road course on Sunday. Suárez and Marks, an accomplished road racer, are entered in Saturday’s Trans Am TA2 Series race on the new Nashville street circuit, part of the inaugural Music City Grand Prix weekend.

Call it a prep for The Glen.

“Every advantage we can give Daniel in this era of no (Cup) practice, no qualifying races, is worth it,” Marks said. “By getting him a ride in the Music City GP, he’ll be able to take the flag at Watkins Glen coming right out of two days of competitive road racing in a similar vehicle. And it’ll be fun for us to race together, finally.”

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