Ross Chastain is cherishing racing for Ryan Newman at Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS – Ross Chastain experienced one of his career highs at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the site of his first career NASCAR national series victory, when he captured the Xfinity Series race in September 2018 at the track.
The glory didn’t extend to the Gander Trucks Series race 0n Friday night at LVMS, but his 14th-place finish ended a day that once again will go down in the history books for the 27-year-old driver.
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— Roush Fenway (@roushfenway) February 21, 2020
Chastain had spent a couple of hours Friday practicing the Roush Fenway No. 6 car as the substitute for Ryan Newman, who will miss the Pennzoil 400 this weekend following his nasty crash on Monday in the final lap of the Daytona 500.
While no stranger to triple duty, having run for underfunded teams in Xfinity and Cup last year while advancing to the truck championship race, Chastain’s triple-duty weekend at Las Vegas is with three competitive organizations (Niece Motorsports in trucks, Kaulig Racing in Xfinity and Roush Fenway in Cup).
— Ross Chastain (@RossChastain) February 21, 2020
“There is a lot of pressure, honestly,” Chastain said. “But probably best for me is that I haven’t had a whole lot of time to comprehend what is going on.”
While he wheeled a Ganassi-supported car last week in the Daytona 500, Chastain’s driving the Roush Fenway car marks the first time he will race in Cup for a competitive full-time team.
Chastain got the call on Tuesday to substitute for Newman. His seat was delivered to Roush Fenway on Tuesday afternoon and he got fitted in the Cup car on Tuesday night.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 19, 2020
“I hate how it’s came about, but the fact that Jack Roush and the whole group at RFR would call me first is so humbling,” said Chastain, who needed permission from Chevrolet-supported Ganassi and Kaulig to drive the Ford for RFR.
“It’s so weird, so crazy. For everybody on all parties to come together and let it happen is big.”
Ross Chastain almost went home to manage the family business and close the book on his racing career. Now he’s going to get a great opportunity to fill in for Ryan Newman at Vegas, a track Chastain won at in the @NASCAR_Xfinity series…
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) February 20, 2020
With the goal of just not crashing in practice, Chastain said the car drove well and it was his best practice ever in a Cup car.
“There are a lot more eyeballs,” Chastain said. “You mess up – I messed up there last week [wrecking in the 500] – and there were a lot more eyeballs on me than I ever had. I’m not afraid to mess up. I feel like Jack and everybody at RFR are behind me.”
Chastain has texted with Newman, who explained what to look for in the car. Former racer Ron Hornaday Jr. called Chastain with some advice.
“Hornaday called me and told me that his steering box was going to be weird and I wouldn’t be able to push his brake pedal,” Chastain said. “He was exactly right. I had to take all the brake springs off it and put a little tiny one [in].
“His steering box is heavy but it’s challenging, so I’m actually looking forward to trying to learn how he does it.”
Ross Chastain walks to the Roush Fenway No. 6 Cup car as he begins his role filling in for Ryan Newman. pic.twitter.com/nDCNsKW5mb
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) February 21, 2020
For Chastain, he will put Friday night behind before competing in two more races this weekend. The Xfinity race scheduled for Saturday is the one where he will earn points, as his full-time gig remains driving for Kaulig.
“I have a short memory,” Chastain said. “You have to as a race-car driver. That’s why we can get loose in [Turn] 3 and drive into 1 wildly. I’ve got three quality cars that are capable of winning.
“Even though we ran 14th tonight, yeah it stinks … [but] I have a fast car tomorrow and a fast car for Sunday. I am living my dream.”